Business feeling impact of COVID-19

By Joseph Slacian

Wabash County businesses, like many across the country, are starting to feel the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mom and pop operations are especially impacted by the current situation. Restaurants and bars are especially impacted by Gov. Eric Holcomb’s mandate to close to in-house dining, limiting service to delivery, drive-in or carry-out.

“We are very fortunate that our business in Wabash already catered to delivery, carry-out and access of a drive-thru window,” said Terri Weaver, who with her husband, Dean, own Goodfella’s Pizza. “Our new location in North Manchester also caters to delivery and carry out, but our dine-in service also did very well in Manchester.

“As a result of the current restrictions, our sales are down somewhat in Manchester, but again we are thankful that other areas of our business, such as delivery, have picked up at that location.”

But, she said, any further restrictions will hurt many small businesses.

“Of course, if restrictions tighten and they only allow delivery, that will be tough for any mom and pop business,” Weaver said. “We are praying for the best. We are unsure of the long-term effect that this will have on our economy and, of course, small business.

“But, we are all in it together and will strive to continue business as usual, or as close to that as possible.”

Like many business owners, Harry Kilmer had been monitoring the COVID-19 situation on the news.

“We didn’t really know a time frame of any actions being taken to combat the virus locally,” said Kilmer, owner of Harry’s Old Kettle Bar & Grill. “We really didn’t make out our final plan to until the governor shut everyone down. That’s when we decided to add delivery to our business as well as our normal curbside carryout.”

Like other local business owners, Kilmer said the public’s response has been tremendous.

“We have had tremendous support for the local community,” he said. “Our curbside and deliveries this week were outstanding. We actually had to close Sunday and Monday because we ran out of staple food items, so now we are waiting on food deliveries to come in Tuesday morning.

“In the coming weeks we are hoping to continue to add items to our menu to keep adding variety for people to enjoy. You can only eat hamburgers and cheesesteaks so many time before you get bored. So look for some exciting dining options soon.

As for the future, Kilmer said he hopes the government continues to value restaurants as essential and allows them to continue food preparations.

“This not only helps us as a business but to the employees who desperately need to keep an income coming in,” he said.

“We are offering delivery shifts to our employees to help and we have additional cleaning hours scheduled.  When I deliver food 100 percent of my delivery fee and tips are going back to the staff. Judy and I are doing all we can for our family of employees during this time. I believe it’s all about Karma! You get in return what you put out.”

Others in the food industry also are feeling the effects of the governor’s mandate, though not as much as some eateries.

Julie McCoart, who with her mother-in-law Deb McCoart, own Ohh, My Cakes, in downtown Wabash.

“People have been truly appreciative of local businesses,” Julie McCoart said. “That’s been truly a blessing. People really are trying to be supportive and to help out in times like this.”

The bakery hasn’t been hit as hard as other eateries, as, it was already based around carry-out.

“We gave them the option of sitting down if they like, but not a whole lot of people did,” she said. “As of right now, we haven’t gotten hit too, too badly because, like I said, we’re set up for carry-out. So, until they take that away from us, then we might have to start looking at some other avenues.”

Some special orders have been canceled, Julie McCoart noted.

“Due to obviously their venue has been canceled, their orders may be too big, it might be just family,” she said. “But some have kept it because it was to be just family.

“We’re just working day by day.”

Pizza King owner Kim Osborne said business at her Canal Street restaurant comes in spurts.

“Everyone has been so-so awesome, and I tell them I appreciate them,” she said.

More businesses other than restaurants are seeing changes because of COVID-19.

Kyndra Baldwin, who owns Custom Crafts in downtown Wabash, said her business has been hit by the coronavirus precautions.

“Parties are usually over 10 people, and with the guideline that you shouldn’t have more than 10 people, they cancel,” she said. “Here’s the thing, the Senior Center had to cancel. I had an event going on there and there were going to be more than 50 people. Well, I already had to order the material. I’m already ready for that, so if we have to postpone until after the twelfth of April, it’s not Easter anymore. Therefore, we’ll have to think of a new craft and go buy new supplies because it’s not Easter anymore.”

Musician Sam Piercy has been deeply impacted by COVID-19.

“My entire livelihood is performing, and every venue that I play at is shut down,” he said.

Piercy plays at the Dallas L. Winchester Senior Center and Wellbrooke of Wabash locally, both of which are shut down because of the coronavirus. He plays about 35 locations each month, all of which are senior facilities.

He had an online performance Saturday night on his Facebook page, and hopes to do it again every Saturday night for the near future.

“I made $75 in tips,” he said, noting that was through PayPal.
He hoped to perform online shows for the senior facilities.

“As I was suggesting that, many of them went to zero activities,” he said. “They’re not even allowing the residents to be in the dining rooms for meals. They’re all quarantined to their rooms and they have to take their meals there. So, setting up a show is really not a possibility for them, but it is from my living room.”

His Saturday night concerts will begin about 8:30 p.m.

Posted on 2020 Mar 24