Locally-owned restaurants and small businesses prepare for COVID-19 restrictions


On Monday, Governor Tony Evers said he will allow bars and restaurants to stay open for now, as long as the number of people inside is limited to 50. But a lot of locally-owned small businesses are still closing and aren’t sure when they’ll be able to open again.

Francesca Hong, who owns Morris Ramen, says it was a tough choice for her to make the decision to close.

“Being in hospitality, our job is to serve folks,” said Hong, “We’re not going to be able to serve folks.”

Across the street at Context – a locally-owned shop specializing in leather goods – Ryan Huber has noticed fewer people in the neighborhood.

“The decrease in traffic has obviously turned into a decrease in sales,” he said.

So a handful of small business owners are calling on the city to help with rent and unemployment money for their staff.

“So many of us are working on very tiny margins,” explained Hong, “We won’t exist at the other side of this if we don’t get help.”

Another way people in Madison can help small businesses survive the COVID-19 closures? Buying gift cards and online retail.

“If you have the means,” pleaded Hong, “Consider this an investment in the city to be able to have restaurants and retailers after this.”

Huber agreed.

“This neighborhood is a showcase of local talent in Madison,” he explained, “It’s all independent businesses throughout and those people have shaped the vibe of this neighborhood over the course of several decades now, so it’s really important to keep those places going.”