One year ago Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order closing of all restaurants and bars in the state to dine-in only customers.
That order not only affected business owners in the food industry but also business owners of theaters, coffee shops, gyms, casinos, along with other businesses. The original orders was supposed to last three weeks.
Brenda Cole, owner of Brenda’ Harbor Cafe, was one of those businesses that was affected by the shutdown. On that Monday the executive order was issued, her restaurant was packed with loyal customers who came out to support Brenda and her staff of 13 employees.
Brenda’s Harbor Cafe, like many restaurants, was closed during the initial COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. She, along with her husband Mark, have high hopes for a successful year in 2021.
Cole is expecting to open the restaurant back up on Monday. The cafe has been closed since November due to the pandemic.
Last week, Whitmer said state restaurants could move to 50 percent capacity, which was music to Cole’s ears because that was the number Cole said her business could survive at.
“We would be fine at 50 percent because we did it last year,” she said.
Cole said last March, when her business was first shut down, her employees did an extensive clean of the restaurant.
“I thought we would only be closed for a couple of weeks,” she said. “We did the remodeling that was needed.”
The restaurant installed an automatic dishwasher, remodeled the men’s and women’s bathrooms, painted the dinning room and deep-cleaned the kitchen, Cole said.
“This year, we just cleaned,” she said.
Because of the uncertainty of not knowing when and if they would be able to go back to work, Cole said she has lost three employees.
Cole said last year they were able to survive the pandemic.
“Overall, people came out and supported us and that helped tremendously,” Cole said. “The summer was good because we had people who supported us, (and) the summer capacity for restaurants in Michigan was at 50 percent.”
Cole said during the summer she had to turn customers away. And that’s during the busiest time of the year for local restaurants.
She said the summer season started out slow but it picked up and the business did well. Curbside pickup also helped the restaurant, according to Cole.
She said because of some of the guidelines for her business to open she would need someone on her staff to take customers’ temperatures and names throughout the day.
“I have worked my whole entire life. I didn’t take vacations, and this has shown me that I may have missed out on a lot of life during all that time,” she said. “I know it is getting nice out again, and I can’t wait to get back to work,”
Brenda’s Harbor Cafe is located at 316 S James St. in Ludington.