▶️ Businesses prepare for ‘tough decisions’ with reality of reopening

By ANYSSA BOHANAN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

Suzy Reininger has owned the Leapin’ Lizards toy store in downtown Bend for over a decade.

While she admits orders are few during the pandemic, she’s looking on the bright side.

“Every day is an adventure but I’m happy to be here!” Reininger said.

Jeff Porda, owner of Brickhouse Steakhouse, says despite the rumors, his restaurant is *not* closing its downtown Bend location. But, he is in the process of renegotiating the lease.

While it may move, Porda says the restaurant itself isn’t leaving town, and he’s facing the same challenges as other businesses, right now.

“The most difficult part is just the people factor,” said Porda. “We care a lot about our people and to see everybody out of work, it’s a really tough time.”

The next step in the coming weeks will be figuring out how businesses will reopen, which won’t be as simple as just opening the doors.

There is certain to be a “new normal.”

“They’ll have to develop protocols of how to sanitize, how to keep distance, and how to keep everybody in the building when you go into your favorite restaurant or shop or salon, and how to keep everybody safe,” said Bend Chamber of Commerce CEO Katy Brooks.

“I think that we might see a little bit of up and down in reopening,” said Downtown Bend Business Association Executive Director Mindy Aisling. “I’ve talked to some restaurant owners who are a little bit concerned about reopening given some of the restrictions that are going to be put on them right away, so they might just do takeout until some of those restrictions are going to be lifted.”

“The most difficult part is just the people factor. We care a lot about our people and to see everybody out of work, it’s a really tough time.”
– Jeff Porda, owner of Brickhouse Steakhouse

Aisling added that, so far, she hasn’t heard of any permanent closures of businesses downtown.

But those who do reopen will also need to *financially* prepare for customers again.

“There were people talking about having to order in like food items and really getting ahead of that, that that’s going to be thousands of dollars, start-up, and retraining new hires,” Reininger said.

“There’s a significant amount of investment in just getting up and running, and then there’s personnel, and then there’s these added safety measures they’ll have to put in place,” said Brooks. “Every business is going to have to make some tough decisions and will be really spending some time trying to crunch the numbers and figuring out how to make it work in the confines of their own business.”

And some may decide it’s too hard to turn a profit with those increased safety and distancing protocols.

While much is still up in the air, owners look forward to the day when they’re able to safely open their doors again.

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