County Businesses Take Steps Toward Normalcy

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
On May 4, the State of Missouri, and Benton County allowed the reopening of business and social events as long as residents and business owners continued to practice proper social distancing requirements. Although businesses that have been closed during the past month are happy to be serving customers again, most of those interviewed are operating with great care.
Victoria Redwing, owner of Red Wing Coffee and Roastery, at 936b Main Street, has been offering carry out service during the Stay-at-Home Order, and says that the business was “making it,” even though sales were about one-half what they had been before COVID-19.
“On the morning of May 4, most customers still wanted to play it safe and used our carry out service instead of sitting in the coffee shop,” said Redwing. “We only had a couple of people sit at two of our tables.”
Redwing said that the shop operates on a reduced schedule from 7 AM to 3 PM. She said that customers who come into the shop order and pick up their food and drinks at the front counter do not present a problem with the six-feet distancing rule, but the staff has masks available if they need them, and use a lot of gloves. She said that the staff also does a lot of sanitizing things like doorknobs. No more than 15 people are allowed in the shop at a time, including the staff.
Redwing also owns Studio Victoria next door to the coffee shop. It was closed until May 4, and already the stylists have appointments as far out as 4 weeks. She said that the Studio hours are 9 AM to 5 PM, but in reality each stylist is working about 12 hours a day, some even starting at 8 AM. There are two stylists working at a time, and each one can only have one customer at a time. The staff wears masks, but the customer can choose whether to wear a mask or not.
Studio 86, at 1634 Main Street, has reopened with stylists also working 12-hour days about three or four days a week. Their customers have to be 30 minutes apart, and there can only be one customer per stylist. No more than 10 total people are allowed in the studio at a time.
R-Bar owner, Kevin LaPittus, has been open for curbside service during the Stay-at-Home Order from 4 to 7 PM on Friday and Saturday nights. After talking things over with co-owner Stacey Smalley, they decided that they wanted to wait at least a week to see how safe it is to open inside dining. They had heard from the Benton County Health Department that the number of Coronavirus cases in the county had recently doubled from four to eight, and didn’t want to be a health risk.
“If we offer inside dining, it will be on May 14 at the earliest,” said LaPittus. “We filed a mass unemployment claim for our employees and they are receiving benefits. If we re-opened this first week and then decided to close again, they would lose their benefits and have to re-file their claims.”
LaPittus said that anyone wanting to take advantage of curb side service at R-Bar can call the restaurant to place an order, give their debit or credit number, and identify the vehicle they will be driving. Once the order is ready, it will be delivered to the customer’s vehicle.
Fajen Insurance Agency, LLC, at 601 Commercial Street, shut down business at its office during the Stay-at-Home Order, and rolled office phones over to staff home phones where business was carried on.
“I still went into the office on a regular basis to pick up mail and check off payments,” said Rick Fajen, owner of the business. “It was a smooth transition with the same number of regular customers, but a little slow attaining new business. Overall, I am surprised at the growth of my business.”
Fajen said that he and his assistant are still working at home this week, and the two will probably return to the office next week. He said that his assistant is pregnant and therefore a high risk for the coronavirus, and he gave her the choice of working at home, coming to the office or taking some time off. She wanted to work in the office. Fajen says he is worried about waiters, waitresses and those in hair salons, to name a few, because they are in closer contact with more people.
The Warsaw Antique Mall at 245 Main Street, opened today, and had a lot of vendors and dealers, rather than a lot of customers. They were tending to their booths and bringing in new products. The store is open Monday through Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM, and on Sunday from 11 AM to 4 PM. Store employees have masks if needed, and make sure everyone keeps a safe distance from each other. The store’s Facebook page urges everyone to use common sense and hand sanitizer, and the staff wipes down surfaces frequently.
The reopening of businesses and social events on May 4, is in the first phase that will last through May 31. State and health officials will re-evaluate the data later in May to determine the next step.
Some cities in Missouri are continuing the Stay-at-Home Order because of particular circumstances in their locale. Kansas City’s order is scheduled to remain until May 15. St. Louis, which has had a majority of the state’s cases, has not made a determination of the date it will reopen.