Businesses maintaining minimal operations to stay afloat during coronavirus pandemic
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Carry out instead of dine in and bread rather than doughnuts have trended up at some of Grayling’s most popular eateries as owners and employees deal with coronavirus restrictions.
Starting on Sunday, March 22, and running through Monday, April 13, restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, and other places of public accommodation offering food or beverages for on-premises consumption were ordered to shut down the dine in part of their facilities.
Bill Gannon, the owner of Bear’s Den Pizzeria and Dawson & Stevens Classic 50’s Diner and Soda Fountain, said the mandate has had an impact on over four dozen employees.
“It’s pretty difficult. I have 50 employees that aren’t working. That’s sad, and I don’t know what to do about that,” Gannon said. “I’m trying to help them get unemployment.”
Both establishments remained open to delivery and carry out orders, but no orders have come in for the diner and soda fountain.
“It’s a natural for pizza to order for a delivery or a pick up,” Gannon said. “That’s part of our business.”
Gannon said his businesses will continue under the limited operations.
“There is not much we can say. It’s mandated by the government that we close the dining room,” he said. “There’s a safety issue and we’ve got to be sure that we comply with what they are requesting. We don’t want anybody to get sick.”
Gannon said he feels bad for his employees as they were transitioning from a slow time of year and getting ready for the spring tourism season.
“It’s brutal on the business and it’s very, very disheartening for the employees,” Gannon said. “I know how hard it is to pay my bills. We all kind of live paycheck to paycheck.”
Loren Goodale III said that the dining area at Goodale’s Bakery was shut down on the afternoon following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“I’ve got a lot of customers that are upset they can’t sit in here, but I don’t want to get into trouble with the government,” he said.
Take out business at the bakery has been slower than usual.
“I think people are just afraid to just get out and move around,” Goodale III said.
The bakery has been cutting back on the products they are making, but employees are working on spring cleaning projects that they would otherwise be tasked to do this time of year.
“We’re trying to keep everybody working,” Goodale III said.
Bread has been a hot item going out the doors since shelves at local grocery stores have been emptied.
“We make it fresh every day, so we’ve got bread,” Goodale III said.
The doughnut cases are also full of freshly made items, but there hasn’t been the high demand for those.
“Normally, we sell a lot more doughnuts than we do bread, but this week it seems to be flip flopping and we’ve been selling more bread and rolls than we normally do and a few less doughnuts,” Goodale III said. “People aren’t doing the sweet treats, but they are coming in and getting meats and cheeses, breads, and sandwiches.”
Goodale III and his sister, Linda Goodale, are heading up operations at the bakery during the government mandate. Their father, Loren Goodale Jr., remains sidelined following a recent knee replacement surgery.
“He tells me he is doing all of his exercises that he should, and he seems to be doing pretty good,” Goodale III said.
Jan Cragg and her granddaughter, Caitlin Zigila, stopped in at Goodale’s Bakery to grab a quick bite to eat following Caitlin’s visit to the dentist.
They said they are coping with the coronavirus pandemic in their homes.
“We’re staying busy and finding stuff to do at home,” Caitlin said.
Bridget Harland, an owner of Grayling Restaurant, said take out orders stayed steady last week, but started to slow down on Saturday, March 21.
She was contemplating shutting down as Gov. Whitmer issued the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order on Monday, March 23. The order mandated that all non-critical businesses to temporarily close.
“I was just about ready to say we were going to close up shop, but then my phone just started ringing like crazy,” Harland said.
Just Bridget and her son, Jamey Harland, the kitchen manager, staffed the restaurant on Monday as they tried to provide comfort food to patrons weathering the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re going to try to stay open as much we can,” Bridget said.