After 14 years of business, Subway closed their doors for good on March 27.

By PJ Ferguson

Whitehall businesses are facing severe setbacks because of the COVID-19 pandemic, some so much they may never reopen.

Subway in Whitehall was one of the first businesses to shutter its doors due the crisis.

After 14 years of business, Subway officially shut down on March 27, announcing the decision in a Facebook post.

“This was a long, thought-out decision and not easy one to make,” wrote owners Philip and Diane Weaver. “The pandemic has hit our small business pretty hard (as we know it has others as well.) Thank you to all of our customers for all the years of patronage.”

The Times reached out to Philip Weaver, who was busy finalizing the closure with the bank at the time of the phone call. He did not return a call for comment after several more attempts.

While Subway is the only known business to totally shut down operations thus far, others are facing uncertain futures.

The Local Butcher Shop, opened by Champlain Beef operator Josh Cuomo in the spring of 2018, may or may not re-open.

The butcher shop is located at the former site of McDonald’s on State Route 22 in Whitehall.

“I’m not sure what I am going to do, I am looking for management I can trust,” said Cuomo, who considered enlisting his mother to run the shop, but due to her age, was worried about her susceptibility to the novel coronavirus.

Cuomo admitted that business during the school year was tough and that the summer was the prime time for the shop.

“I’m open to opening back up in the summertime,” said Cuomo, adding that it is “going to be a few months,” as the store has been completely cleared out with “nothing left in there.”

With Cuomo having his hands full with Champlain Beef and the coronavirus pandemic crippling small businesses nationwide, it appears only time will tell for the future of the Local Butcher Shop.

Some restaurants hoped to offer take-out services, but varying factors prohibited some from maintaining that business model.

China Wok closed its doors in March with a letter on the door telling customers that they will reassess when they can re-open.

“We are simply concerned about the risks COVID-19 poses to our family’s safety and your safety,” wrote owner Becky Weng, “We look forward to seeing you back to the restaurant soon.”

Due to trouble with receiving food shipments, many Chinese restaurants across the region have been forced to temporarily close their doors.

Local breakfast and lunch hub Historic Grounds tried to offer take-out for the first week that eateries were limited to no in-house dining, but “it didn’t pan out” for them, said owner Nathaniel Hungtington.

Hungtington assured that the eatery will reopen once the crisis settles down.

The pandemic has not been easy for most, especially for The Railyard Taproom and Restaurant, which just opened last fall.

“We had a great thing going and then a crazy thing happens like that,” said owner Fra Putorti.

The restaurant is still open Thursday through Sunday, offering food for pickup 3 to 8 p.m.

“We’re covering our costs and as long that happens, we’ll keep doing it,” said Putorti, adding that the situation is “disheartening” but he is “thankful for the support from the community.”

While many businesses have been forced to adapt by offering only pickup and delivery services, some will change their whole business model in reaction to the pandemic.

Joe’s Bottle Redemption Service has been closed since March, and owner Joe Kelley says that they will be moving to using machines rather than having an employee counting the recyclables by hand.

Kelley says these machines will be available to customers “24/7 as long as they are respectful.”

“We’re going to run it like a laundromat,” said Kelley.



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