LANSING, Mich. — Community members and business owners are saying they thought they had survived the worst after the first string of business closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic back in spring of 2020.
But now, in a second statewide shutdown and months without federal funding, these business owners tell us they’re really relying on the community to keep their doors open.
The Peanut Barrel, Crunchy’s, and Lou & Harry’s have been staples of the East Lansing community for decades. But, as they navigate a second shut down to manage the rising number COVID cases in the state, worry is starting to sink in.
“2020 has been a year of constant change as far as trying to run a small business in Michigan," said Peanut Barrel owner Joseph Bell.
Mike Kreuger, the owner, and manager of Crunchy’s put it simply: “It hurts.”
“We brought back who was available, got them all trained then when it shut back down it just all collapsed again,” said Scott Rolen, part-owner and manager of Lou & Harry’s.
The increased restrictions and changes to campus life have made an impact on their business.
“You know we’ve lost a lot of that ability to cater to that student crowd, which is not all of our business but it’s a significant part of our business on any typical year,” Kreuger said.
State guidelines have completely shut down indoor dining rooms until January 15th at the earliest, but these businesses are finding ways to keep the doors open whether it’s ordering take-out or taking your food outside.
Lou & Harry’s started making happy hour combos for their patrons to enjoy from home as a part of their take out menu. The Peanut Barrel keeps their patio open for dining.
“We are able to still seat people on our patio and, believe it or not, people are still willing to eat outside even in thirty- or forty-degree weather. I’m thrilled,” Bell said.
Camille Hollenquest is an East Lansing resident who wants to see these businesses stick around beyond the pandemic.
“I’ve been using DoorDash because we do have to support restaurants and keep them open because you know I don’t know if you can see down Grand River, some of them are actually closing and that’s scary to me,” Hollenquest said.
Kreuger hopes his restaurant and the other local businesses will be around to keep serving the community.
“And so we just really want to encourage people to support us. If they want to see us a year from now, we’re really hoping that they can support us now,” Kreuger explained.
For Rolen, the support he’s seen from loyal patrons and fellow business owners is a bright spot in an otherwise dreary year.
“The one cool thing that’s come out of all of this, you know the local community really has come together strong,” Rolen said.