NAVAJO COUNTY — Restaurants and other businesses around Navajo County had to respond quickly to Gov. Ducey’s executive order issued on the evening Thursday, March 19. The order gave dine-in restaurants, gyms and movie-theaters until the end of business Friday to close, to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Restaurants are allowed to offer take-out services for food and even liquor if food is ordered. Some dine-in establishments scrambled to adjust, other decided to close temporarily.
Apache County businesses began making their adjustments over the weekend, after the first cases of COVID-19 were announced in that county on Saturday.
The following is a round-up of how some area businesses are responding.
As Celebrations Restaurant in Snowflake closed its doors on March 7, Jason and Lindsay Waldrep began renovations on the 1890 building they purchased from Dean Porter, along with the existing restaurant business from Julie Hensley.
Their plan was to open “Streets on Main,” and serve breakfast, lunch and dinner beginning April 15. And, depending on what happens with COVID-19, they will still be ready on that date to do take-out and delivery, if that is still an option.
No doubt with the initial outlay of funds necessary to do renovations and launch a restaurant, the Waldreps did not expect something like a virus to curtail their business plan.
“We had hoped to open at that time,” said Jason, “to reclaim some of the cost, and will if it (COVID-19 restrictions) does not last about six months.”
The Waldreps are not new to the restaurant business. They were the original owners and operators of White Mountain Donuts which opened in 2016 in Show Low and sold last year.
With a hopeful attitude, they moving forward. Lindsay left things on a positive note saying, “We will just start slower and get our feet wet again.”
If circumstances allow the Waldreps to open on April 15 and they start with only take-outs and delivery, they will reserve a grand opening date in the future.
“Streets on Main” is located at 123 N. Main.
When the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside held its March 19 council meeting via live stream on Facebook, many local community members tuned in. Among those was Tyrell Wiltbank, co-owner of Hushh Bakehouse, seeking answers for the survival of the business she and her mother Mina Henning operate in Pinetop.
As a two-person business, with occasional help from Aunt Susan in the kitchen, everything depends upon them. They do everything from scratch for the bakery and make it a point to “be local.” In addition to their bakery items, they are a special order operation with cakes and pies for weddings and other events.
After learning the restrictions being imposed, Hushh began taking the necessary measures to ensure they and their customers would be safe and they could stay open.
“We are not going to close,” said Wiltbank. “We will do delivery within 15 miles or curbside and counter service. We are a bakery. People just come in and look in the case, get it and take it to go. We don’t do table service.”
Wiltbank said they’ve “upped their sanitation” and have put six foot markers on the floor to help respect people’s boundaries; no more than seven people are in the shop at a time.
One of the bakery’s challenges is they don’t know how much to bake. With that in mind, it is a daily guessing game so they are, for example, baking one dozen muffins rather than two.
This is the time of year they are booking fall weddings. Those that had booked for April are now changing theirs to April next year or some time later this year.
Surprisingly, Wiltbank said that Friday, March 20 was a busy day for them. They even had a wedding tasting that day.
She attributes the day’s success to Pinetop-Lakeside’s Mayor Stephanie Irwin.
“She reminded people that we are the first you go to to ask for donations for your event and said now it is your turn to give back to them,” related Wiltbank.
“We will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. People can come in, call or text 928-242-7224.”
Wiltbank said she and her husband would be going out to dinner Friday evening, the last day for restaurants to have sit-down service inside. Referencing California’s actions regarding COVID-19, Wiltbank said, “Nobody knows when that might happen to Arizona or how long before that mandate expires.”
“We are going to have our last supper before all the craziness happens,” she concluded.
• Diamond Creek Jewelry and Pawn
One might think that pawn shops would be doing a booming business right now with some people either having reduced work hours, or worse yet a job loss, in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
But it appears to be the opposite.
Robert who works at Diamond Creek said they have seen a significant decline in business since March 9, selling nothing on March 17-18. “And it looks like we won’t do any sales today,” Robert said last Friday, Mar. 20.
When asked why he thinks there has been a decline, Robert said his guess is that people are buying food and other essentials in preparation for possible quarantines.
“They are just not buying jewelry and things like that right now,” he said.
“I’m staying open because I’ve been busy and people have kept their appointments,” says Owner Geline Ostgaard of Hair by Geline at Bison Ranch in Overgaard.
“I’m always sanitizing my hands and the chairs and counters and doors,” she adds. “I’m always talking to and visiting with my customers and they think this thing is going to fly away and things will go back to normal.”
•Mogollon Family Dentistry, as well as most dental offices are open only for emergencies. “At this time, all dental professionals have been asked by American Dental Association to postpone all non-emergency dental procedures and cleanings until April 3rd to prevent the spread of coronavirus,” informs the business voicemail.
• Barnet Dulaney Perkins Eye Center in Show Low and Lakeside closed last week with the exception of emergencies.
• The lobby of Alta Sierra Veterinary Hospital is closed but they provide detailed information on their website about how pet owners and their pets will be received. “Upon arriving at our clinic, please remain inside your vehicle and contact us via phone to let our team know you have arrived ...”
• Cattleman’s Steakhouse Restaurant made the difficult decision to close up temporarily; they are not offering take-out service. While they did not respond to a call for comments, they posted a message on their Facebook page: “On behalf of Tim, Tiffany and the entire Cattlemen’s family, we are so blessed!! The loving support shown to us last night was amazing.. We truly have the BEST Customers/Friends!! While we are mandated to close our doors for now, soon as this is all lifted, we will be back open, stronger than ever!! Thank you so much for your continued support.. ..And we will be back soon!! Thank you!”