Local small business owner looks to help restaurants

DOWAGIAC — A local Dowagiac small business owner is planning a way to help market local southwest Michigan restaurants through marketing and website design.

Spencer Mroczek, owner of Take 5 Design, a website and digital marketing business in Dowagiac, is facing some of the same coronavirus threats within his own business. On Monday, when Mroczek learned restaurants would be forced to close down dine-in options to the public, he formed a plan to create online websites for local restaurants for free. Mroczek is working on figuring out the unavoidable costs of domain names and web hosting.

“Come a month [from now] I don’t want to walk through Dowagiac and see boarded-up restaurants,” Mroczek said. “We are living in a time where there has to be people to kind of step up and help. I have the capability and I have the passion and right now, because of how the economy has affected my business, I have the time.”

Mroczek, a former pastor and creative technology director, opened his marketing and website design business three years ago after securing his first client.

“What I like to do is work with small businesses to get them into the digital age,” he said. “The way I do things differently is I’m big about education and strategy. I kind of help them plan out what is that is unique about them or different about them, who their target audience is and then help them from there and then figure out messaging.”

With his own fears surrounding the future of his business, Mroczek took a leap of faith and began thinking of ideas.

“I don’t know how this is going to help my business but when things are so unknown you can’t plan,” he said. “All you can really do is something good.”

The small business owner, who loves to cook and eat good food, said restaurants usually do not have a high-profit margin and therefore face challenges when building a website, unless they own several locations.

“They are kind of on their own,” he said. “I’ve kind of tried to figure out ways to do things a little bit differently and do things a little bit cheaper.”

Unconformable with sitting around during a time of confusion, Mroczek said his plan is to help build restaurants a two-page website. One page will be a basic homepage with information about them and another page will include the restaurant’s menu.

He is also exploring options to include an online ordering system if he can get it working correctly. This capability is something not all websites have, he added.

“That capability typically costs quite a bit, but if I get enough interest I can do things to scale,” he said. “Basically, I can build it once and then duplicate the exact same thing.”

With uncertainty surrounding how soon restaurants will realistically be able to open, Mroczek believes community support is critical.

“It’s the difference between the economy recovering and not recovering,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons I wanted to do this — sometimes it just takes a spark and takes an idea.”