A Village Adjusts

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Main Street, Cold Spring (Photo by Ross Corsair)

Cold Spring businesses cope with coronavirus

Cold Spring is a very different village than it was a week ago. With schools, libraries and government offices closed, most businesses remain open but must cope with the coronavirus. Some are doing OK while others struggle. Some are getting creative while others question their future. All are trying to figure out what might work best.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday (March 16) ordered all bars and restaurants to close by 8 p.m.; many eateries have already altered their business plan in light of the ruling, which also prohibited indoor dining but allows takeout and delivery. Others ponder what to do.

“We’re going to try to stay true to the community,” said Bob Hayes, co-owner of Hudson Hils Cafe and Market. “We’re offering a limited menu from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. so people who are tired of cooking at home can come and pick up food.”

Hayes said the cafe will also offer delivery within Philipstown, which can include alcohol following a state ruling allowing restaurants with liquor licenses to sell packaged beer and wine. He is considering other ideas such as regular Friday night fried chicken dinners, which until now have only been available on First Fridays.

Greg Pagones

Greg Pagones (Photo by M. Turton)

Greg Pagones, owner of The Cold Spring Depot, said he is still weighing his options. “We’re doing takeout for now until we figure out what’s going on; it’s been difficult,” he said. By Tuesday afternoon, he had received only five orders for corned beef and cabbage dinners, the traditional St. Patrick’s Day dish.

“I’m deciding whether it’s worth it to stay open at all,” he said. Pagones said he hopes that by next week, after people have stocked up on groceries, they’ll be looking to pick up some different foods. “They may be getting a bit stir-crazy,” he said.

The Riverview Restaurant in Cold Spring locked its doors on Thursday (March 19) after offering takeout earlier in the week. “Business was good, but we’re in a danger zone now,” said owner Jimmy Ely. After talking to his staff members, some of whom were being pressured by family members not to work, Ely opted to close. “We just don’t want to put anyone at risk,” he said.

(The Current is preparing a list Highlands restaurants and their pickup and takeout policies and hours.)

Business has been brisk at local wine and liquor stores. “We’ve been in business for 90 years and seen a lot, including world wars, but never anything like this,” said Donnie Yannitelli, owner of Yannitelli Wines & Spirits. “We’ve been very, very busy.” He said hoarding that is happening industry-wide should stabilize soon. “These are uncharted waters, let’s give it a week and see where it goes,” he said.

Eliza Starbuck

Eliza Starbuck (Photo by M. Turton)

Eliza Starbuck, co-owner of Flowercup Wine and president of the Cold Spring Chamber of Commerce, agreed. “It’s one of those storms before the quiet,” she said. “We’ve been busy, but we anticipate things dropping off dramatically at some point.”

She said the shop’s weekly wine tastings have been suspended but customers can call in orders for pickup or receive free delivery on cases. “We’re happy that we can provide something that gives people some calm and relaxation during this crisis,” she said.

Business has also picked up at The Country Goose. “I’m selling a lot of coffee,” said owner Leonora Burton, who also noted that customers have been practicing “social distancing” by waiting outside her Main Street shop and entering only after the previous purchaser leaves. Chocolate and toys and games for the kids have been big sellers.

Things have been considerably slower at Juanita’s Kitchen in Nelsonville, even though owner Juanita Rincon continues to offer her full Mexican menu as takeout. On St. Patrick’s Day she even offered green soup. “Customers can also get delivery through GrubHub.com,” Rencon said, adding that a Haldane student is helping with deliveries.

The Cold Spring Coffee House is launching a website for pick-up orders, including a limited pastry menu, dry goods, and refrigerated items such as milk, yogurt and cider. Coffee orders will be taken at the door. “It’s going to evolve depending  where demand is,” manager Mia Klubnick said. She is also planning new offerings such as fresh-baked bread and home baking kits and will post a video soon featuring activities for families.

Juamita Rincon

Juanita Rincon (Photo by M. Turton)

In the past week, binge buying has at times emptied shelves at Foodtown, although “distribution channels throughout the industry are sound,” said Noah Katz, co-president of the grocery chain, in an email. “Some items may be limited, but overall there is plenty of food. We ask people not to ‘binge’ as we get the stores stocked as fast as possible.”

Laura Strange, senior vice president with the National Grocers Association echoed that in an email. “We encourage all customers to buy only what they need to ensure as many of their neighbors as possible are able to purchase what they need, too.”

Restocking has also posed a challenge at Drug World. “Thermometers, sanitizers and hand-cleaning products are pretty much sold out,” pharmacist Jo Ann Caban said. The 25 hand sanitizers delivered almost every morning are usually sold out within an hour or two.

Caban said that when they can, customers are refilling inexpensive prescriptions for up to two months at a time. She added that a number of New York City residents who have second homes in Philipstown have moved north, transferring their prescriptions to Drug World.

2 thoughts on “A Village Adjusts

  1. I used to work in an industry where people would set off a red alert over an incorrect button color and force teams of people to say at work until midnight over said emergencies. Perhaps my panic reactors got burnt out. At a certain point, my philosophy became “If it’s not an emergency, it’s not an emergency. EVERY DAY CAN’T BE AN EMERGENCY.”

    Although we’re faced with a more mortal threat than incorrect button colors, my reaction remains the same. Do not panic. Do not respond to your knee-jerking, gut-wrenching emotions. Stay present and respond in a measured and appropriate manner. React quickly as things change.

    Binge shopping to stockpile food, drink, and toilet paper during a crisis sets off mass panic and is as inappropriate a response as going on vacation to exotic places because airfares are cheep right now. The grocery store is NOT running out of supplies, but it certainly will look that way if everyone rushes it at once and buys more than they need.

    This is NOT a supplies shortage emergency, this is a bio emergency that is setting off a social and economic crisis as a result. Businesses don’t need volunteers, they need time for their employees to restock. They can handle it if consumers don’t upset the balance of inventory flow.

    Look out for the seniors, check in on them. Make sure they have what they need and are not feeling lonely- at a safe distance. And take it easy. Keep your heads on. Control your emotions. And think about yourself as a part of a complex system that is in a delicate balance. This is how we all get through this together.

  2. Thanks for a great article and for all the updates that The Current is providing.

    As I have written elsewhere, our Main Street businesses (and all Putnam County businesses for that matter) are in a life-threatening situation when it comes to whether or not we will be able to survive this crisis. Although I have a small shop on Main Street, I am much more concerned about our plumbing business and the losses we face because people are putting off work and jobs that had been scheduled. Every contractor in the trades that I speak to is in the same boat. And because we are self employed, we don’t have many of the benefits that those with regular jobs have.

    We know that the federal government is in the process of giving out billions of dollars for small business loans and financial assistance, however it is a daunting task to find out who to contact if you are just one individual like me. I am spending hours online, tracking down every bit of information I can find.

    Meanwhile- where are our government officials while this is going on? It is impossible to get in touch with County Exec Odell, Congressman Maloney, our legislators and even our town officials who all seem to be MIA. And forget about anyone from the Economic Development agency or Tourism. None of them are going to miss a paycheck, no matter how bad it gets!

    We taxpayers are paying millions of dollars every year for services from these people, yet none of them are available when we really need them. Federal money is being funneled through state and county agencies. Why aren’t our so-called leaders on top of this situation? Why aren’t they doing the leg work that’s needed with their huge and bloated workforce that apparently is on permanent vacation?

    Our small businesses need REAL help. We all know about the health risks and are acting to prevent further transmission of this disease. Most of us are not going to get Chinese Corona flu virus, and there will be even fewer fatalities, certainly much less than the H1N! flu pandemic. However, we may never recover from the financial hits that we are all taking, not just in Putnam but all over the country.

    MaryEllen Odell, Sean Patrick Maloney, Putnam legislators: it’s long past time for you to come out of hiding and start acting like leaders instead of pampered bureaucrats. Your constituents need your help. We are not just taxpayers- we are your friends and neighbors. Do the right thing.