GTPulse: Beloved Mancelona Breakfast Cafe Holds On With Weekend Hours

Mancelona is a small, rural community all its own. Like most small towns, it’s residents understand what makes it unique, but also the parallels it shares with other small towns. There has been a lot of focus on how COVID-19 is ravaging the economy, and because of that much of our attention has been placed in larger communities. There aren’t five or six different grocery stores to pick from in Mancelona or handfuls of restaurants that are bravely pushing on to stay open. Bojack’s is a bakery and cafe that is run by a two-man team in Mancelona and their struggle is different from that of a restaurant even in a small town like Traverse City. With less advertising, fewer prospective customers and options like delivery and online ordering not available they’re working off of word of mouth and customer loyalty. But, the little cafe has seen struggle before and has made it through to the other side and they’re planning to do the same now.

“We have a small team anyways, so that makes it a little easier. Last weekend was ok, we had a lot of regulars coming in and minding the new rules, six feet apart and all that stuff.”

Luke Morgunn is one half of a two-person team that runs Bojack’s, with the other being owner Dave Bodziak. They’re doing everything they can to stay open and that includes reworking the hours that they’re currently open and staying healthy.

“Every time someone leaves I wipe down the doorknobs and the counter with bleach, so we’re really being serious about staying clean so everyone can stay healthy. Last weekend was okay. If I can’t keep $200 in the till over the course of three days, then that’s rough.”

The cafe has narrowed its hours to Friday, Saturday and Sundays only from 7:30 or 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

“We’re getting maybe a fifth of what we usually get for business. The locals have been the ones showing up and supporting the heck out of us.”

The cafe is in its 22nd year, with Dave being the original owner. He opened it initially as a bakeshop. About six years in he started doing deli sandwiches, and around 2008 he took out the sandwiches when the recession happened.

“He was working by himself just for a year doing baked goods. When the economy started recovering he opened up a restaurant so now we’re a bakeshop and cafe.”

Dave is no stranger to economic hard times as a small business owner, and he’s ready to put the work in to pull his bakeshop and cafe through these hard times too. Dave has lowered his price on bread to help provide something that people may be unable to find at the grocery store. Both Dave and Luke aren’t taking paychecks right now. Everything that is being made is going back into keeping the restaurant open.

“I started here in 2014 and I’ve been working about six days a week since then. I can tell you that I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Restaurants everywhere are struggling to stay open and Bojack’s is no different. With Mancelona being a smaller, working-class community, many residents have lost hours at work, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not looking after their own in times of crisis. Locals are keeping Bojack’s afloat through this COVID-19 crisis, and Dave and Luke feel the love.

“We’re taking it weekend by weekend right now. If we can limp along through this then we will. We’re doing the best we can and we know the customers are too.”

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Categories: GTPulse