Covid-19 pandemic leaves businesses in flux

Coronavirus has customers shopping for necessities and restaurant owners debating immediate future

DREWS TRUE VALUE Hardware manager Alex Kornely showed off a depleted supply of toilet paper, which has been in high demand for the last two weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic. Kornely said the Port Washington store will have a new shipment in two weeks. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press Staff

A number of area businesses are struggling to adapt with the times due to the recent onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday, Gov. Tony Evers directed the Department of Health Services to order bars and restaurants to close except for delivery and pickup orders and limited gatherings of more than 10 people.

“We’re here until 5 p.m. and will only have food for takeout,” Schooner Pub cook John Hubing said. “We don’t have enough food orders to stay open otherwise. I hope it won’t take long.”

Products like paper towels, toilet paper and hand wipes are dwindling at Drews True Value Hardware in Port Washington. Store manager Alex Kornely said the store ran out of toilet paper last week and doesn’t expect another shipment for another two weeks because the supply warehouse is in Harvard, Ill., which is also struggling to keep up with the demand. 

“All of that stuff is wiped out,” Kornely said, noting the store previously had more than four pallets of toilet paper and paper towels in stock before the pandemic two weeks ago. “We started selling more of those types of products a couple weeks ago and now we’re desperate for more.”

Kornely said customers typically shop for those types of goods at big box stores like Walmart or grocery stores. At Costco Wholesale in Grafton, customers were waiting outside before the store opened at 10 a.m. on Monday. 

“Usually we’re like the third rung down for paper products,” he said. “Now, we’re seeing a lot more people coming into our store for that.”

Kornely said production of hand sanitizer and wipes was reduced during the winter because it’s more of a seasonal product used in the spring and summer.

“They cut down on making that, but now they’re starting to make more because of the demand, but it’s going to take awhile before we start seeing it on the shelves,” he said.

Customers are not being limited with what they can buy, but in order to keep the remaining supplies in stock, Kornely recommends customers only purchase what they need. 

“For the paper and cleaning products that we sell, we need people to not hoard them because all of this stuff comes down to a science,” he said. “When everybody decides to start hoarding, that’s when shortages happen. We’re two weeks out on a lot of things.”

Other businesses involved in the hospitality industry are scaling back some of their operations. The Java Dock Cafe in Port Washington, for instance, no longer has a self-service station for cream and sugar and Daily Baking Co. and Pear & Simple are temporarily closed.

Other restaurants in Port such as Pasta Shoppe and Twisted Willow are suspending dine-in services, but still offer their food to go. 

On Monday, Twisted Willow co-owner Candy Scudder said she and her business partners decided to layoff the majority of their 60 employees, most of whom are part-time employees. 

“We basically had to let everybody go. We’re encouraging them to file for unemployment. We’re very concerned for how long this is going to be. Because once that unemployment-insurance money dwindles, we’re not sure if it is going to be enough,” she said. “We’re trying to encourage and educate as much we possibly can.

“This was a difficult decision because these people are supporting their families, but we felt this was the right decision. We’ve never dealt with anything like this, and the entire world is affected,” she said.

Salaried employees are still working at the restaurant, but Scudder said their hours might be cut in half. 

“Depending on how long this goes, we’re considering dwindling out our kitchen as much as possible. Everything that we’ve pre-prepped we would like to sell, but we may end up closing everything. We’re more worried about people’s safety more than anything. 

Scudder said she is offering discounted gift certificates for future dining excursions. She is said it is difficult to run a restaurant during this health scare.

“We’ll have to do a lot of money crunching because we still have to pay the sales tax and our insurance,” she said. “There are so many costs involved and our margins are already small to begin with.”

Scudder said she was considering offering curbside pickup but decided against the idea because of the amount of traffic on Franklin St.  

“We didn’t want that to restrict people from coming and going,” she said. “We’re thinking of safety and health.

Scudder also said she is contacting local businesses like Ansay & Associates and Construction Forms to see if the restaurant can cater lunches for staff members. 

Beanies Mexican Restaurant and Cantina co-owner Marcia Endicott said the customary Friday all-you-can-eat buffet had was shelved last week, but the eatery is offering free chips and salsa with curbside pickup. They are also considering delivery service and currently figuring out the logistics. 

“We want to encourage people to still come out. Our weekend was better than what we expected,” Endicott said, noting her brother Jay owns a bar in Ohio which is shutdown due to a state-wide mandate.  

Endicott is currently residing in Florida and said it is a little stressful to be far away from her establishment during this time.     





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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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