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Restaurants and bars appreciate local support...

Now that the governor’s guidelines have been relaxed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, some of the businesses hardest hit are getting back to business.

5/12/20 (Tue)

Now that the governor’s guidelines have been relaxed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, some of the businesses hardest hit are getting back to business.

A number of merchants interviewed indicated they are not back to normal and probably won’t be for a long time.

However, their businesses that include Kenmare’s restaurants, taverns and theater, are open. And each merchant encourages people to stop at their favorite spot for a beer and/or meal.

The governor’s guidelines called for businesses to resume on May 1, but with some limited restrictions.

City Limits Bar and Bottle Shop, Danny Schlosser

Since opening back up nearly two weeks ago, business has been down and owner Danny Schlosser hasn’t seen a lot of his regular crowd.

He said a lot of people remain reluctant to go out for a drink because of the lingering virus, but he is slowly getting back to reality.

Schlosser said the bottle shop did really well during the closure.

One thing Schosser noticed during the past six weeks is that more people have been buying local wherever they could. He said there was no place to go so consumers relied on their local businesses, something he would like to see continue.

Kenmare Theatre, Becky Kostad

The downtown theater will re-open on Friday night with the film “I Still Believe.” Theater manager  Becky Kostad is confident people will come out after not having access to the theater for more than a month.

Kostad said there are a number of guidelines to follow that should help put people more at ease in case they are reluctant to go to the movie.

“We have to have wipes available and we have to wipe off the seats,” Kostad said. “We’ll have two chairs between parties, posted signs and we’ll be evenly spaced.”

She added the theater is only allowed to have 20 percent of capacity and it is recommended employees wear gloves and masks.

“It’s nice to have the option of entertainment in town,” Kostad said. “If people want to go out they can.”

Dave’s Place, Dave Beck

Unfortunately, Dave’s Place owner Dave Beck was forced to lay off staff and cut hours because of the reduced business.

The north side restaurant continued with take out orders and Beck said that revenue paid for the rent and electricity, but that’s about it.

Like Schlosser, Beck said it remains sluggish since restrictions have been eased, but the restaurant is open seven days a week from 11 a.m., to 10 p.m., with a full menu.

“We’ve taken every precaution we can,” Beck said. “We sanitize tables and menus, we wash floors, we’re as safe as I think we can be, so if you want a nice meal, come on out.”

But Beck talked about another situation that has come up since the pandemic and that’s product shortages.

He said certain products used in the restaurant are becoming short because suppliers can’t get them from their distributors.

Beck didn’t specify what the products are, but nationwide meat packing plants and poultry operations have been hit hard by the pandemic.

Beer Bob’s, Tim Lautenschlager

During the closure, there were five take-out steak nights that owner Tim Lautenschlager said were great, but not enough since March and April are probably his best months of the year.

“It wasn’t good,” Lautenschlager said. “I look at last year’s sales and there were a lot of sales lost.”

However, he said it’s good to be back open and business has been “pretty good,” since Beer Bob’s opened with the limited restrictions.

One thing Lautenschlager will never forget from these past several weeks, is how people went out of their way to support local businesses like his.

“A lot of people from miles around were there to support you,”  he said. “And that’s a good feeling knowing that.”

M&K’s Pizza Hub, Kathy Cook

On April 10 M&K’s Pizza Hub started a take and bake program to area communities that actually increased their sales during the weeks the restaurant was closed.

“We still have slow days, but people really supported us,” said owner Kathy Cook. “We were given lemons, so we decided to make lemonade.”

Since re-opening the restaurant, the take and bake was scaled back, but customers kept asking about it so the M&K’s staff continued it.

On Wednesday, they deliver to Bowbells, Lignite, Powers Lake and Stanley, and on Friday, it’s delivery to Tolley, Mohall and Sherwood.

“It’s somewhat back to normal,” Cook said. “There’s not as many people dining in and there’s a lot more take out. People are trying to find a new normal.”

Unfortunately, the popular buffet will not be coming back for the foreseeable future on guidance from First District Health Unit, according to Cook.

She said the restaurant was never completely closed, but because business was down considerably, a PPP loan was obtained to keep the employees working.

“It’s gone very well,” Cook said. “We’re thankful and happy the community has supported us.”

Gathering Grounds Cassie Golde

“I can’t complain,” said owner Cassie Golde. “We were very well supported. Our customers are awesome.”

Golde said Gathering Grounds stayed busy during the restrictions, mainly because of online ordering and curbside pickup.

“Some days were slower than others, but we did OK,” she said. “We had shortened hours, but we made it and everyone kept working. I didn’t have to let anyone go and that’s not something I would want to have to do.”

Golde called the Gathering Grounds staff “a team” and that team worked together well during a very unusual five-week period.

A number of restrictions remain, according to Golde, including tables in the restaurant now being six feet apart and all food prepared is bagged before it’s given to customers.

The online ordering wasn’t a short-term fix, as that continues, as well as delivery.

“We’re still doing curbside pickup if that’s what customers want,” Golde said. “We encourage take out, but people can come in and sit down if they want.”

Cookies & Confections, Bev Heninger

The coffee shop portion of the business was closed during the pandemic restrictions but the bakery remained fully operational, according to owner Bev Heninger.

“Because we deliver to grocery stores and distributors, we continued in the bakery,” Heninger said. “The doors were locked but Kurt (Heninger) and I delivered and everybody kept working. It went well.”

On May 5, the coffee shop re-opened and although it isn’t like before, Heninger said business is going okay.

She said people are once again welcome to stop by for lunch.

“We’re getting back to a little bit of normal,” Heninger said. “I feel good about how we turned out.”

Ying Bin, Susan Yang

The downtown Chinese restaurant is open for dining in and take out. Social distancing and sanitizing protocols are in place for customers’ safety... 

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