By Mary Ann Edwards of Mom’s Place in South Haven
From a business perspective, everything was going along normally until after the president’s first speech a week ago Wednesday.
Thursday was definitely slower, Friday morning as well. People still came out for fish. Saturday and Sunday were not bad, Sunday was actually hopeful. We had so many compliments on how well our wait staff was keeping things sanitized, people were tipping well, and all seemed good.
Monday’s news, though not unexpected, was a complete punch in the gut. Our minds scrambled for what to do next. We are coming off of winter, which is slower, and things pick up for the summer, which is what we live on.
This is when we need to train and hire, but now for the first time in 31 years we’ve had to lay everyone off. We could try to keep them and pay them, but most are tipped workers and, since they claim their tips, that will be reflected in unemployment; so they will do just as well there as they would if we paid them their current wages.
Going to work on Tuesday was hard, so many people think we can still open (just for them). I do think in our small town that we have a different situation than the Cities. People come to socialize; so many sit at different tables and talk across the room, so the distancing with the regular customers is already there. Now we don’t see them, can’t check on how they are doing. It’s hard.
The next step was to assess what we have for food. Do we close right now, or try the window service? We froze what we could, condensed the coolers, and shut down as much as we could. If this is going to be a long shutdown, we need to get the electric bill down, and waste as little food as possible. We gave away pies and salads and other stuff that we didn’t think would sell to customers that were in. Our son Brandon took on the job of trying to set up our former ice cream room for window service.
Wednesday we had people, but not many still understood, so many drove through, not sure what was really going on. Thursday was better, but still so many people did not understand the whole idea. Then there was the juggle of food from one cooler to another, since our coolers were getting too cold after not being opened as much; produce was freezing. And getting out paychecks.
Friday, we didn’t know what to expect. We know people like fish, but how much to thaw? People did come out, but it felt so hard to do our work in an efficient way. It was a good day. We also had such great support and kind words from everyone trying to keep us in business and doing what they can. One thing that really lifted our moods: we had a car group we barely know that came out.
They called Thursday to see if that would work, and all called their orders in ahead, cruised out together, ate outside – all at a distance – and cruised off again. Some of the guys in town came to see the cars too. It lifted our moods to see that some are trying to do what they can to help out in a big way. After Saturday and Sunday, we were almost out of some foods. This was a good time to take a few days off of cooking.
We are taking this time to paint, fix, and move things around. So you may see people inside, since our family has come by, but we are trying to take this time to get some things done.
I would like to thank everyone for their support, and their patience as we work through this. For as long as this goes on, we will try to stay open some hours Thursday through Sunday, and will post updates on Facebook.
On the news at home, our son came home from college Tuesday, and then on Friday was informed it would be distance learning for the rest of the semester. When college is almost five hours away, it makes that news a bit frustrating, but I am happy to have him home. We had a baby shower for my niece that was canceled, and we are watching closely to see if my daughter’s bridal shower and wedding will be affected.
I hope everyone is well, and getting through this. We pray for a quick end to this pandemic.