CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Businesses across the country have been hurting during the pandemic, but while some are calling it quits, others are taking the chance to try something new.
Dallas & Company owner Andy Dallas plans to close after Halloween. “When I started my business, it wasn’t much bigger than a piece of plywood,” he explained. After 49 years, he’s shutting the doors of a storefront that holds a special place in many hearts. “The support has been wonderful, and I can’t say enough good things about it, but it’s time.”
Dallas says COVID-19 restrictions played a big role in his decision. “The thing about our business is that it is the most non-essential business probably in Champaign-Urbana because we sell rubber chickens and funny dog poop,” he said with a chuckle. He also chose to close because his property value is going up. The other reason is because of his age. He just felt it was a good time to retire.
Hank’s Table is another recent closure. Owners there said the “events of the past year” were part of it. Still, while some are calling it quits, others are becoming something new.
“We’re re-branding the restaurant into a tap house. It’s gonna be called Aspen Tap House. Kind of patterned around campfire, hospitality theme,” said Aspen Tap House Market Partner Roland Wayment. They’ve been operating what many know as Scotty’s Brewhouse since March. But they aren’t untouched by COVID-19 either. “Some of the challenges were obviously financial. Being able to get masks, that took a while. But we were able to get those real early,” explained Wayment. “We were lucky here. We have these garage doors, which allow us to open-air this room.”
Champaign County Chamber of Commerce leaders say they’re continually working on creating resources for business owners.
“There is money available through the state of Illinois, and it’s called the Big Grant Business Interruption,” said chamber president Laura Weis. The state of Illinois is hosting an informational webinar where business owners can learn more about those grants. It’s this Wednesday (Oct. 28) from 1-2:30. You don’t have to be a chamber member to attend. You can sign up here. On top of those grants, the cities of Champaign and Urbana are working on their own programs.
“If you are a business that incurred expenses because of COVID-19 that you would not normally have incurred, they’re going to have a reimbursement program for some of those expenses,” explained Weis. More resources and information can be found here and here.
Aspen Tap House is rolling out their changes starting November 2. To kick those off, they’re having events on Friday (5-8) and Saturday (12-4). Food is complimentary. Guests will only pay for drinks. The event is happening by reservation-only. Call (813) 695-8859 if you’re interested. Aspen Tap House is also hiring. Applications are available here.