Downtown stores, restaurants affected by harsh weather

Published 10:58 am Thursday, January 31, 2019

DOWAGIAC — A frigid cold snap that hit the Midwest this week affected not only temperatures and driving conditions, but also affected business.

As hazardous weather blew through Dowagiac Wednesday, resulting in low driving visibility and wind chills reaching 30 degrees below zero, many downtown businesses hung a closed sign over their doors. Though a select few businesses did keep their doors open through the cold, most businesses closed, citing public and employee safety.

“We don’t want people out in this weather,” said Cindy Brosnan, owner of Round Oak Revisited. “We also had concerns about our employees. We preferred that people stay home and safe.”

Brian Antisdel, owner of IT3 Computer Solutions, LLC, agreed.

“I can’t take the chance [of opening during the weather],” he said. “I can’t ask people to come in if it is not safe.”

Most downtown businesses said full-day weather-related closings are a rarity and that they plan to reopen Thursday or Friday, depending on the weather. Individual business owners advised customers to follow them on social media or to call the business to be updated on weather-related closings.

For the downtown businesses that closed due to the weather, there was a financial hit involved due to lost sales and lost business.

For Wood Fire Trattoria, general manager Kevin Hanner estimated that on a typical Wednesday, the downtown restaurant would have brought in between $2,000 or $3,000 in sales. However, as the business was closed for the weather, it was not able to make those sales.

“There is a loss, but public safety comes before profits,” he said. “We don’t want to encourage people to come out in this [weather], and we certainly don’t want our employees to come out in this.”

Other business owners agreed that the loss of one to two days of business was worth the sacrifice to keep their employees and the public safe from the weather.

“Safety always comes first when it comes to our employees and our customers, of course,” Brosnan said.

“Who cares if I’m not making any money?” Antisdel added. “I couldn’t live with myself if something happened to somebody.”

Once the harsh weather passes, local business owners said they would be ready to get back to work and welcome the public back into their businesses. Some businesses owners, such and Brosnan and June Nemeth, owner of Yarn on Front, said they hope that increased downtown traffic from Saturday’s Ice Time Festival will help them recoup some of the business lost during the days they needed to close.

“I’m excited to get back in and hope to see a lot of people this weekend,” Nemeth said. “But when the weather is like this, it is better if everyone stays off the roads. … It’s just not worth the risk.”