Sign in the window at Amore Coffee: "We're still here!"

Local Businesses Adapt to Coronavirus Shutdown

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Watching businesses in West St. Paul shift and adapt to the coronavirus shutdown is both sobering and heartening.

It’s sobering because we’re seeing the impact of economic anxiety and shutdowns coming to life in our own neighborhoods. And it’s heartening because sometimes, against all odds, people do wonderful things.

Changing Practices

A number of businesses are having to shift their practices. For many restaurants with closed dining rooms, that means pivoting to takeout and delivery. Running food out to idling cars has become standard practice.

We’ve tried to keep a running list of some of those coronavirus changes, but here are some highlights:

Amore Coffee's new take out window.
The new takeout window at Amore Coffee.

These are just a few examples. Many businesses have changed their hours and added delivery—though not all are as busy as Beirut. Support your local businesses if you can.

Closing Businesses

Some businesses have had to completely close in the face of government mandates for health and safety. That can be crippling to a business, whether they’ve been open for decades or days.

That’s the case for FoodSmith, the new bistro pub at Smith and Dodd. They just opened on March 9 and announced their closure on March 18.

Sola Salon Studios is in a similar situation. They just opened in January, renting space to about 40 independent businesses that offer the kind of beauty services that were included in the governor’s mandated shutdown. But they’re not just closing, they’re helping.

“Our promise was as long as the closure is in place they’re not going to pay rent,” Sola Salon Studios co-owner Erin Elgin told KSTP. “We’ll keep doing that, we’ll tighten things up on our end.”

It’s a big cost, but Elgin said they’re committed to doing it through the shutdown.

“We’re willing to take a major personal hit to help our studio owners provide for the long term,” she said. Elgin said 90% of their renters are female business owners and many are mothers. “If they can’t work their livelihood is completely gone, just like that,” she said.

Tappers Pub also closed on March 17, and shared these words on Facebook:

“These are strange days folks. As we prepare to close the doors tonight at 5, I just wanted to say that we love and appreciate everyone that has been so supportive of the bar and our staff, not just the recent days but these last few years. We can genuinely say that you’ve become so much more than customers to us, and we truly consider you friends and family.”

(Tappers did open temporarily on Friday, March 20 to sell frozen pizzas.)

Hang in There

Perhaps the most encouraging words came from Neighbors, Inc., CEO Charlie Thompson, who on Monday reported a big increase in food shelf customers.

“Let’s not hope for a return to normal,” Thompson said. “Let’s plan to be even better than before.”

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