Back to business with their fingers crossed

Fredonia tavern owner, others happy to reopen but still leery about future

AMONG THOSE CELEBRATING the reopening of Barb’s Pub and Grub in Fredonia last week were (from left) Luke Kaat, Abby Kaat, Cailey Winker, Jake Winker and Cara Jones. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Supreme Court’s ruling last week vacating Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order came in the nick of time for Barb Robillard, owner of Barb’s Pub and Grub.

“If this had gone on any longer, I would not have been able to stay open,” she said.

But when the high court’s ruling came down on Wednesday, May 13, “there was a huge celebration,” Robillard said. “Everyone was so excited to be out.”

Miriam Lambright, owner of Miriam’s Amish Bakery, in Fredonia remained open throughout the shutdown and saw the same thing.

“I think we were the only place they could go to get out,” she said. “Some of them hadn’t gotten out in a month. Coming here was the highlight of their day.”

Perhaps for that reason, Lambright said, her business didn’t suffer during the lockdown, as other businesses did.

“It’s better now than before the virus hit,” she said.

Robillard said she has always done fundraisers for local causes, and she continued that practice during the shutdown, even though her hours were reduced and business was down.

During the last two months, Robillard adopted other shuttered businesses, either donating the profits from food sales on some nights or collecting donations from patrons.

Among those she helped were Beauty Garden Salon in Fredonia and other bars and eateries, including the Dawg House in Waubeka, NoWhere Pub on Belgium-Kohler Road and Fredonia Family Restaurant, which is reopening its dine-in service on Friday, May 22.

Robillard estimated she raised about $3,000 in all.

She said she’ll continue to do fundraisers for businesses that have had to close or individuals who have been out of work.

Robillard said her business took a severe hit when Evers issued his shutdown order on the afternoon of St. Patrick’s Day, her busiest day of the year.

“That’s money lost that I’ll never get back,” she said.

She tried to get government assistance by getting a small-business loan, but those funds were almost immediately exhausted. 

Her bank did not apply for the second round of loans, and when she went to other banks, they turned her down, saying they weren’t taking on new customers.

“I got zero help. And I was paying an employee to stay on because we were doing take out. But we were kind of running out of money,” Robillard said.

“Hopefully they (the state) won’t shut us down again.”



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
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