Local businesses surviving during COVID despite unclear outlook

Bars and restaurants have been able to open since the end of May. Those that chose to open have had to change their business models to comply with state guidelines.

Venice Pub & Pizzeria in Ishpeming does most of their business through takeout. While this does provide revenue, it’s not enough to be sustainable in the long-term.

“I don’t think we can stand stand it long-term, no,” said Glenn Fosmo of the Venice Pub & Pizzeria. “I think if the takeout was maybe as good as it was when we were first opened back up for takeout, then we would have a good chance, but not now that it’s half and half. It would be pretty tough to stay open at this rate.”

Fosmo points to fluctuating operating costs as another stressor in these uncertain times. Inconsistent customers make it difficult for the Venice to plan accordingly with food costs. Fosmo tells us the Venice serves at about 10% capacity on average in-house.

Other businesses, like Smarty’s Saloon in Negaunee, say they’re happy to be open. The saloon has been operating at half capacity, and has seen fairly modest revenue.

“It’s been sneaking back, trying to go along with all the rules and regulations and stuff,” said Scott “Smarty” Soeltner, owner of Smarty’s Saloon. “We’ve had to remove some stools and make some room, but we’re inching forward.”

According to the owner, Smarty’s wouldn’t be open if it weren’t for MEDC grants and state assistance.

Both establishments have expressed gratitude in being able to bring back their employees, and their hope that the COVID-19 pandemic is resolved sooner rather than later.