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Broadway businesses have mixed approaches to reopening

Posted at 6:36 PM, May 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-17 11:21:24-04

GREEN BAY, Wis. (NBC 26) -- As Brown County businesses are legally allowed to reopen, some on Broadway are hesitant as they await more demand from customers as well as guidance from industry regulators.

As of the first weekend after Safer at Home mandates were lifted, many downtown restaurants are slowing their roll before allowing in-person dining again.

"When I saw that, and especially because it was a legality issue, and not because the concerns or risks are any less, immediately I was like 'oh, I'm not comfortable with this,'" Desiree Wescott, co-owner of Glass Nickel Pizza said. "I conversed with my front house manager, and I asked her how she felt ... if the servers up here really felt like they could comfortably serve then I would reconsider opening up a little bit sooner, but she said 'we all want to stay safe up here as well.'"

"Every time we've heard anything, it's kind of like, let's wait and see what we hear next," Christopher Mangless, chef-owner of Three Thee Five said. "So we're certainly not in hurry to get the doors open ... if people come knocking on the door saying 'we want to eat! Let us in,' then we kind of wait for three more people to say it and then readjust our plan based on what people are asking for."

For some, the temporary shutdowns allowed businesses time to complete projects or renovations without losing additional business. Robert Phillips, executive chef of Chefusion, prioritizes finishing that with intention before allowing customers back inside.

"I just don't want to rush to do anything that may make this come back on us at a later time," Phillips said. "Right now, what I'm more interested in, is sustaining our business."

Many businesses, like boutique Zulou, were not prepared to reopen when the Supreme Court overturned the state order as well as Brown County rescinding their own localized mandate.

"We were expecting to have a couple more weeks," co-owner Krista Evrand said. "The shop was pretty much a mess because we were doing projects."

However, some are embracing the opportunity to welcome customers back to shop in-person.

"We have to open at some point, obviously," Evrand said. "Enough customers reached out that they wanted to come in, so we thought we would just try opening slowly. So we're doing appointment only for now, and we'll kind of see how that goes."

Mainstream Boutique is operating on limited hours with a maximum capacity of 10 people in the store. Customers are allowed to shop freely without designated appointments.

"If people are trying on the clothes, we're steaming them after," Mainstream Boutique store manager Tiffany Roman said. "It is a time process but we are enjoying seeing people here."

According to Broadway residents, bars including Keggers and Sardine Can were packed with lines out the door last night, in contrast to other businesses that are taking their time to open their doors.

"Under immediate circumstances for us is to continue what we have been doing," Voyageurs Sourdough and Bakehouse owner Ben Cadman said. "I don't think we're gonna make a drastic shift and say our cafe is open. Of course in the medium term, we would love to get people back in to our space, but we're going to take it slowly."

Voyageurs Sourdough ownership has spoken to non-profit On Broadway about converting outdoor space in the Broadway District to seating where customers could be served food and beverages with social distancing from others in mind.