By TED TAYLOR
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
If you visited Bend’s Crux Fermentation Project last weekend, don’t expect everything about the experience to be exactly the same this weekend.
“When we hear a suggestion from a customer or employee, if it’s valid, we make the change right then and there,” said Crux Fermentation Project CEO Larry Sidor. “The Crux you saw on Friday night is not going to be the same Crux you’ll see this Friday night. We keep changing and morphing and trying to keep people safe and protected.”
As Central Oregon wades through the uncharted waters of reopening its economy, business owners like Sidor say they’re learning as they go.
Sidor and Joe Puentes, owner of Proust Coffee in Redmond, were part of a weekly joint news conference Thursday with the mayors and city managers of Bend and Redmond.
The group talked about their initial thoughts on what was a busy weekend in the area following Gov. Kate Brown’s decision to allow Deschutes County to move into Phase I of her reopening plan.
“I’m a little bit nervous about this weekend. I really think we’re going to get inundated with a lot of folks from the valley and Seattle. I think it’s going to be challenging.”
– Larry Sidor, CEO of Crux Fermentation Project
Restaurants, pubs, coffee shops and more came back to life across the region as the lid was ever-so-slightly lifted on a months-long quarantine.
City leaders said the business owners they have been talking to are overwhelmingly excited about the reopening, but are struggling to keep up with state guidelines and restrictions.
Puentes said it was a little disheartening to start moving tables and taping off appropriate distances because it made his usually hoppin’ spot feel so sparse.
But he was excited about opening the doors and bringing back some of the buzz.
“We as a coffee shop, we were scrambling to get all the things we needed to (reopen)…but at the same it’s still having our businesses be available to people to come in and to help our communities thrive and to grow,” he said.
The Crux many experienced last weekend had about 18 hours to prepare for a reopening after the governor’s announcement, Sidor said.
They had to inform staff of the new requirements, then, metered access to their lawn eating area and didn’t allow any indoor seating. But things went well.
He said the phone had been ringing off the hook in previous weeks from locals asking about curbside service.
This week? The calls are coming, but the area codes have changed.
“I’m a little bit nervous about this weekend,” Sidor told the group. “I really think we’re going to get inundated with a lot of folks from the valley and Seattle. I think it’s going to be challenging.”
Bend City Manager Eric King on Wednesday night extended his administrative order urging tourists to avoid the area. Brown issued her own statement on Thursday on behalf of a bipartisan group of 26 mayors, calling on people to stay home.
“Together we are asking all Oregonians to please keep it local this Memorial Day,” Brown said. “If you love Central Oregon, it’ll still be there in a few weeks.”
Local city leaders said they are going into the holiday weekend understanding they can’t keep everyone out. They can only try to keep everyone safe.
Russell said it was important for businesses and community leaders to spread the messages of keeping your distance, wearing a mask when at all possible and hope visitors are conscientious about respecting their fellow Oregonians.
Puentes said customers, for the most part, have been responsive to the efforts they’re taking in the shop.
“It’s the responsibility of the business owners to protect our employees and protect our customers,” he said. “But it’s also the responsibility of the customers to come and be respectful of what’s going on, what we’re trying to do to provide a service for them but to protect everyone as well.”