The COVID-19 pandemic has forced countless businesses to close their doors for good.
Many new businesses have struggled to stay open from supply problems to soaring prices.
We spoke with several local business owners on how they are staying alive during this difficult time.
Opening a business during a pandemic spelled disaster for many.
Despite all the road blocks in their way, they are managing to stay open and turn a profit.
From not enough workers to not enough supplies, these businesses have faced a tough test opening during the pandemic.
Rosco’s Sports Bar and Grill opened in February of 2022. The owner said that working with vendors and laborers a lot of things seemed to be backed up.
“We have a freezer that took months to get here, and some of our equipment, the leeway time on that was very long. Just the labor industry in general trying to get the contractors in to do some of the electrical work. Everybody seemed to be backed up. Staffing has obviously been a big issue that we are trying to work through,” said Kristopher Hess, Owner of Rosco’s Sports Bar and Grill.
Hess added that soaring prices are almost a weekly ritual.
“We are consistently having to adjust prices for things just based on our vendor prices. We are starting to see another increase in food prices unfortunately which we will have to be adjusted moving forward at some point, but we do see that week over week,” said Hess.
Bar Owner John Melody has opened three businesses during the pandemic including John Russel Brewing Company, Pier 6, and Bay House Oyster Bar & Restaurant.
Melody said that they decided to just keep going and that the pandemic is going to be behind us.
“We just had to keep driving forward. Sometimes the road forward may be shorter than the road back, but we have a lot of good people working for us which is really good. Unfortunately I don’t think anybody has enough people right now,” said John Melody, Erie Business Owner.
Melody added that inflation is not helping either.
“The prices of things is expensive if you can get them all the time and consistency can be a problem as well,” said Melody.
Erie Food Co-Op opened their second location downtown in March of 2022. They needed to make some adjustments to stay open in a post COVID world.
“Things like having a self checkout that we don’t have at our other location, or we have a salad robot that we didn’t have a traditional salad bar. Those kinds of conversations factored in really early in 2020 when we realized that the landscape was going to be very different,” said Leanna Nieratko, Erie Food Co-Op CEO/General Manager.
Nieratko said that they had to deal with distribution challenges too.
“Things you would not even expect certain types of steel or even rubber that you have to use in construction were constrained for weeks out. So you had to decide do we move our opening date? So we change some plan or do we just roll with it,” said Nieratko.
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All the business owners we talked with said that despite all of the challenges they face, they are grateful for the support and business from the community.