Detroit ice cream stores face obstacles amid pandemic, keep moving forward

Courtesy of Zahra Saad of The Custard HutHot Waffle Sandwiches sold by The Custard Hut of Dearborn Heights, Michigan

Zahra Saad was startled by the reactions when she announced the opening of her business, the Custard Hut. “When we opened on April 10, I received multiple death threats, multiple threats on my business and actually had people calling the cops to try to shut me down, but we were allowed to be open,” said Saad. For many people, ice cream is the go-to staple of the summer. But during a global pandemic that limits face-to-face interaction and differing opinions by the public and business owners alike about when the appropriate time is to open a store, the sweet treat has undergone a lot of changes these past few months. Several Detroit ice cream stores were forced to close down because of the shelter in place order that was effective March 24.

East Lansing community rallies to Keep Restaurants Afloat

Chase GoffDowntown East Lansing

When COVID-19 struck the nation, restaurants had to adjust to meet health regulations, making it hard for local businesses to keep their doors open. Mike Krueger, owner and general manager of Crunchy’s Bar and Grill, said that he had to completely change their model, as well as acquire products to meet the demands of the customers ordering takeout and delivery. “It was difficult, in the sense that we had to acquire a lot more to-go type products, boxes, to-go silverware, and that sort of thing because we decided that we wanted to still stay open for takeout and for delivery options,” said Crunchy’s Bar and Grill owner and general manager, Mike Krueger. “Also turning our model into a takeout model, rather than a dine in model was a challenge for us.”

Despite facing these challenges, Crunchy’s Bar and Grill was ready to open back up as soon as the stay at home order was lifted on June 1. The staff just needed to be recalled and trained, which wasn’t an issue according to Krueger.

COVID-19 forces restaurants to rethink business model

Michigan restaurants don’t look as they used to before COVID-19. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order leaves restaurants with only one option to continue the business, and that is through carry-out orders. 

Without customers at their tables, hundreds of restaurants across the state have placed their employees on furlough. For the remaining few, hours have been shortened. Some have temporarily closed until the order is lifted. Some will never open again. 

Portage, Michigan

At Red Lobster in Portage, Michigan, 17-year-old Sarah Sweers is a hostess who worked part time after school and on the weekends.

Family eats pizza at home

Coronavirus changes model for restaurant business

With the coronavirus pandemic reaching the United States, restaurants have been required to allow only carryout and delivery orders, drastically changing the landscape of the restaurant business. This has caused a shortage of work for some people and opportunity for others. “Business is booming,” said Konrad Nawrot, an MSU student and DoorDash driver said. “There’s more peak pays now because more people are ordering.”

However, due to the virus, delivery drivers are forced to take extra steps to ensure cleanliness that slows down the process. “Pick up and drop off are much harder because no contact is allowed,” Nawrot said.

Williamston small businesses apply for LEAP relief

Small businesses in Williamston apply for emergency relief grants from the Lansing Economic Area Partnership. More than 500 businesses vie for financial support. Photo by: Ian Gilmour. Several small businesses in Williamston applied for emergency financial relief from the Lansing Economic Area Partnership after the Michigan Economic Development Corporation awarded it $600,000 to grant to 60 small businesses in Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties. “I think the fact this money is available just for the tri-county area is super important,” said Williamston Mayor Tammy Gilroy.