COVID-19 Effects on Businesses

Amy Binder, Staff Reporter

On Mar. 16, Governor Tim Walz closed prominent gathering places across Minnesota, forcing many local businesses to close, reduce hours or switch to pick-up or drop-off services only.

“Now that we are only open for takeout, business is only about 20-30% of what it was before the outbreak,” said Angie Chen, 11. Chen’s parents run Suishin, a Japanese cuisine restaurant in North Oaks. Because of the pandemic, employees at Suishin have also been affected. “Unfortunately, we had to reduce our staff for the time being,” Chen said. Workers across the country have been laid off after business slowed, causing unemployment rates to skyrocket.

Furthermore, COVID-19 has impacted local restaurants in other, non-financial ways. “When COVID-19 reached Minnesota, our restaurant [Wok Cuisine] lost more than 50% of our business,” said Hannah Tang, class of 2019 graduate of Mounds View. “This was still when dining services were open, but the number of customers we had were decreasing every day. My parents think that racial xenophobia affected many perceptions about Chinese people, so people were afraid to order from our Chinese restaurant.” However, with people beginning to support local businesses and other services being shut down, “our customer count has returned to normal,” Tang said.

Both restaurants have increased sanitation efforts like maintaining social distancing and requiring employees to wash their hands after interacting with customers.

Small businesses are almost universally impacted regardless of their function. “The inability to meet face to face and to go to senior living communities for assessments limits her ability to properly assess operation. Relationships are disrupted which makes work more difficult,” said Grace Pitsenbarger, 11, regarding her mother’s consulting business, Three Strands Consulting. Although her business has not lost customers due to the pandemic, communication now takes place online and over the phone.

Despite facing new challenges, local businesses are grateful for the continued support from the community. “The best way to help support local restaurants like us would be to keep ordering food/services,” Chen said. “Spread the word and encourage others, if possible, to help other local businesses as well. We are stunned by the support we have already received from our customers.”