Businesses grapple with school closures, cancelled events and coronavirus fears

Amid event cancellations, school closings and pandemic fear, area businesses are waiting to see how the coronavirus threat will affect customers.

Theresa Malloy, owner of Paul Gregory’s on Center Street in Southington, said she’s had catering customers cancel orders. Others have adjusted, like COCC, the financial technology company with offices on Executive Boulevard North. Malloy said the business usually orders pies for Pi day but was concerned about employees cutting their own slices.

Malloy instead made 1,220 mini-pies and delivered them to the company’s Avon campus on Friday.

She hasn’t yet noticed an impact on customers, but hopes for a boost with people home and looking for something to do. She also expects the restaurant’s delivery service to pick up.

“Our meals can be packaged individually,” she said.

Customers staying home could mean fewer hours for workers.

“If the sales are down, we’re reducing staff,” she said.

School’s out

For some students, no school meant being able to pick up extra work hours. Maegan Griffin, a University of New Haven sophomore from Southington, was working at Angela’s Pizzeria & Deli in Plantsville on Friday afternoon.

Students had to be off campus by Wednesday. She’s had one class via phone, but otherwise was free to work.

“I told (my boss) I can take whatever you have,” Griffin said.

Aqua Turf Club in Southington had a host of postponements, an employee said Friday. On Thursday, Gov. Ned Lamont prohibited gatherings of more than 250 people, exempting religious services.

‘Nothing else to do’

With upcoming events canceled and schools closed, it’s unclear what will happen to area proms in two months. Lindsay Rinere, an owner of The Dressing Room Boutique on North Main Street in Wallingford, said she’s not taking in as many shipments as she normally does this time of year.

But Friday was a busy day since school was canceled.

“I’ve had a lot of girls in all day. They don’t have anything else to do,” Rinere said.

The shop will continue as normal, with extra cleaning and frequent disinfecting.

“We’re still going with our business,” Rinere said.

More cleaning

At Crystal Bees in Southington, large events such as concerts have been canceled. General Manager Kari Mocci said they’re doing extra cleaning, but otherwise are awaiting further developments.

“The safety of our guests is what we’re focused on,” she said. “We’re trying to stay clean.”

Crystal Bees offers arcade games, bowling, a restaurant and a bar. It offered delivery, but the service was suspended to redo the menu. Mocci said she’s considering starting it again in anticipation of demand for food delivery.

Among the bowlers on Friday were Evan and Stacy Huffman and their two children. They were visiting from Indiana and looking for something to do. Plans for the weekend, including Hartford’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, were off because of the virus threat.

Rosanne Ford, Midstate Chamber of Commerce president, said she hopes area residents will continue to patronize local businesses. She’s worried that Meriden-area businesses and employees could be hurt if people hunker down for weeks.

“The bulk of our members and really businesses in the city are the small- to medium-sized businesses,” Ford said.

She said many businesses aren’t sure what’s ahead.

“People are in preparedness mode in terms of business continuity plans and their employees,” Ford said.

jbuchanan@record-journal.com203-317-2230Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

Theresa Malloy, owner of Paul Gregory's cafe and catering in Southington. | Dave Zajac, Record-Journal
With local school, politics and coronavirus news being more important now than ever, please help our newsroom deliver the coverage you deserve. Please support Local news.

More From This Section