Traverse City Business Community Reacts to Friday Reopening
The Traverse City business community is responding with excitement to the Governor’s announcement Monday afternoon: retail shops, bars, and restaurants can open at 50% capacity starting at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
One of the General Managing Partners at North Peak says he heard the rumors first thing this morning. But he had to watch the Governor’s news conference for himself. He had to see it to believe it.
When he heard the Governor say, “People in those regions can reopen retail businesses, restaurants and bars with limited seating so this is a new way of dining,” Mike Lloyd started clapping and clenched his fists in victory. “My heart and brain’s been going a thousand miles an hour. We cannot wait to get back to serving the community and doing what we do best.”
They’ll have to dust off the seats and polish the brass at the bar – like hundreds of others, North Peak is excited to re-open for business. Lloyd says, “50% capacity is better than no one in the building obviously. So we’re super excited even with the restrictions.”
North Peak says all of their booths already have partitions separating customers, and they’ll move their free-standing tables six feet apart. Per the Governor’s announcement, servers will be wearing masks. “We’re more than happy to accommodate that. Our wide open spaces in our restaurant really is going to help accommodate the needs… whatever they ask we’re going to do it. We’re just ready to get it going.”
It’s all a small price to pay if it means getting back to work after about eight weeks of having to lock their doors to dine in customers. Lloyd adds, “We’ve taken tremendous steps to make sure the community feels safe coming in. more than just gloves and sanitation and masks. It’s much more than that. We realize that. We’re doing everything we can to make sure the community feels comfortable when they come in to enjoy.”
Traverse Connect says they knew the announcement was coming, and have been eager to see it finally happen. CEO Warren Call says, “We’ve been working with the Governor’s office working on proactive solutions over the last several weeks to help our businesses and our communities respond and recover to this crisis.”
The Governor says the Traverse City “region” (Region 6) has fewer than five Coronavirus cases per million residents each day and less than 2 percent of the tests are positive – the UP (Region 8) is better than half those figures.
Call says by re-opening retail, bars, and restaurants on Friday, “We can be a model and example for the rest of the state. This is one step. Throughout this week there’s expected to be more discussion.” And the Governor says there could be more announcements for other regions later this week.
Traverse City’s Mayor, Jim Carruthers, shares the sentiment. “At least now, with a little bit, some guidance from Lansing and the Governor we can start to do this on a measured and slow process to see how this goes. We’re going to be the proving ground.”
Call adds, “We’ve gone, from the very beginning, acute part of this crisis, where there’s more questions than answers. And now we’re into the recovery phase or very beginning of recovery phase, where there’s more concerns and challenges than anything else.” He says that’s where Traverse Connect aims to help local businesses. “Every time an industry has an issue, we’re trying to get answers for them. We’re trying to get solutions at the State and local level to help those businesses get back on their feet.”
Carruthers says the phased re-opening is good for his community. “We have many mom and pop stores. They’re not going to fare very well through this if we don’t open up soon and allow some of them to make a living, we might lose them.” He adds that local government may have a say in some of the restrictions in the days and weeks ahead. “We’re going to have to be very mindful of the spaces. How we provide the social distancing in some of these smaller restaurants, that’s going to be a challenge. Whether we open bars, that kind of thing. As the Governor did say, this is an Executive Order from Lansing and from her office but she still wants the locals to control some of this and do what’s right or what they feel is right for them and their community. So we’re going to work hard to figure out how we can do this and do it safely so we can support and protect, not only the patrons that come to be here, but also the owners of these facilities.”
As for North Peak’s employees, Mike Lloyd says everyone he’s talked is ready to go. “Everyone I speak to, they can’t wait to get off the couch and get back to work. We’re hoping that’s the feeling all over town. Because, I know, it’s summertime, it is Traverse City, we’re ready to get hoppin’.”
North Peak is under the same ownership as Kilkenny’s bar right next door, and they too will be eager to open to customers, and they are still working to figure out what social distancing looks like in what’s usually a jam-packed setting on Friday and Saturday nights. The current plan for Kilkenny’s is to open on May 28th.