Many businesses renovating, preparing for reopening
Certain restrictions in the governor's safer at home order have been lifted in recent days, but many non-essential businesses still can't open fully. Some businesses are finding a silver lining while their commerce is disrupted.
There's a lot of cleaning and preparing being done at Fox River Brewing Company locations before opening up again.
"All five properties,” said Jay Supple, Fox River Brewing Owner. “We're in a mode from painting to staining, to tearing out carpeting today, we put new floors in the brewery, new floors in the kitchen, stuff like that."
While they'd prefer to open sooner rather than later, renovating is one way they can take advantage of the otherwise unfortunate situation.
"It would be impossible to tear our kitchen apart and someone do the floors,” said John Supple, another owner. “It'd take three or four days to shut down."
The hope with new renovations the business can come back strong once it’s able to reopen.
"Our goal is once they come in they see what we have done, they feel very comfortable, they go out and tell other people as well, and they come back more often,” said Jay. “We think we can capture our sales faster by doing what we're doing than not."
Other local businesses - like Oshkosh's Bar 430 and Appleton's Brewed Awakenings - have the same idea.
"A lot of projects here were a long time overdue. So it gives us a chance obviously with no one here to refresh the floors, finishing them, redoing the walls, painting, upgrading furniture,” said Brady Hoopman, Bar 430 owner.
"It's the thing that keeps our spirits up too, knowing that there's still progress and that one day we will be open again,” said Brewed Awakenings Owner Nora Asplund, who's doing similar projects in the coffee shop.
These renovations aren't just about making things look nice, social distancing is being kept in mind, too.
"Getting our back patio out, as in the summer months we know people coming back are going to be a little more conscientious of that, so having out outdoor space available is really important to us as well," said Hoopman.
Plus, they're all planning to implement more healthy practices above and beyond what was done before.
"Just trying to figure out what other things that we can do,” said Asplund. “You know, the condiment tables that we have, like the creamer and sugars. Just trying to figure out safer ways to still let people be able to make their drink the way they want it done but also keep everybody safe and less contact."
"So much of it now is going to come down to the governor of what stipulations are, but even still we're going to have our own protocol at every location too to make sure that when you walk in - from sanitation, to cleanliness, to spacing - we're going to be dialed in,” said Jay.
"The goal here is to make sure everyone, our staff, our customers, ourselves are being clean, sanitary, and safe,” said Hoopman.
The time to plan and make changes is a silver lining, but not ideal for any of these businesses.
Bar 430 and Fox River Brewing are currently doing takeout orders, while Brewed Awakenings has closed completely.
"We tried it for a little bit, the takeout options,” said Asplund. “And we just weren't getting the traffic that we needed to stay open."
"It's been quite tough obviously, in the summer months we employ upwards of 20 to 35 people so that's kind of the toughest part,” said Hoopman. So the biggest thing for us is to get our staff back as soon as possible."
Fox River Brewing, which did lay off most of its employees in the beginning, has been able to bring many back on through the renovation projects according to Jay and John.
"They're excited, they love to see the changes,” said John. “In fact, they even go to me, 'Can we paint this? Can we change this?' It's been really exciting because they've really been on board for it."
These projects are a way for these businesses to carry on until there's a new normal.
"We're just trying to do everything that we can right now to just keep moving, and just keep bettering ourselves, bettering the business even though we're closed,” said Asplund. “You know, we gotta keep keeping on."
"We're all really excited to get back and support out downtown businesses and stay local,” said Hoopman.