With shutdown over, Main Street businesses begin to reopen in Park City
Red Banjo Pizza at 5 p.m. on Saturday reopened the dining room and deck after a closure that lasted for longer than six weeks, stretching from what would have been the final weeks of the ski season through the first month of the spring shoulder season.
The restaurant had been offering to-go and delivery services during the Summit County-mandated shutdown of the dining room, part of the County Courthouse’s broad, community-wide efforts to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus. The eatery had also been providing a family in need with a free dinner each night. But on Saturday Red Banjo was able to welcome people inside again.
Tana Toly, whose family owns the longtime restaurant, said the people who came to Red Banjo on Saturday were chatty and some said they had not been to the restaurant in years. Parkites tipped well and praised the staffers, she said.
“People are ready to get out of their home to go and eat,” she said, adding, “Have some fun again.”
Red Banjo and the other businesses in Park City and surrounding Summit County must adjust to tight restrictions that health officials mandated as the local economy begins to reopen from the coronavirus shutdowns. Restaurants are especially impacted by the restrictions since they prepare food and typically draw crowds to tight quarters.
Red Banjo is limiting hours for now and the available seating has been temporarily slashed to meet social distancing guidelines designed to keep people separated. The main floor normally has 13 tables available, but that number has dropped to five. The deck typically offers five tables, a figure that has been reduced to two, while the lower floor remains closed, leaving 13 tables unavailable on that level.
Sales dropped over the weekend from what normally would be expected, but Toly described the numbers as “pretty good” nonetheless. She said there is cautious optimism Red Banjo will have a solid spring.
“This has been a good opportunity to get locals back on Main Street,” she said.
Main Street and the wider business community have suffered terribly under the shutdown conditions, which led to a punishing end to the ski season as the mountain resorts closed several weeks earlier than scheduled, the lodging industry cratered and crowds disappeared. The Park City Chamber/Bureau in March released a forecast showing season-end spending by visitors through the end of April was projected to drop by 16.7% from the previous ski season. The lodging numbers were projected to drop similarly. City Hall, meanwhile, is preparing for what will be the most difficult budget talks since the depths of the recession a decade ago as leaders cope with falling sales taxes.
There were at some points just a scattered person or two seen on Main Street just after the shutdown started in March. There would normally be crowds on the shopping, dining and entertainment strip until the early morning hours at that time of year. The business group that represents the interests of Main Street, the Historic Park City Alliance, has drafted a months-long plan to reignite the street as it outlined a series of steps to draw people.
Alison Kuhlow, the executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance, said business on Main Street at the beginning of May is limited anyway based on the traditional post-skiing shoulder season. She said people were seen walking Main Street last weekend as places started to reopen. Sales figures from the Historic Park City Alliance were not available by early in the week. She said she anticipates more retailers will reopen in the next several weeks. She predicted by June 15, at the outset of the busiest stretch of the summer-tourism season, approximately 90% of the businesses on Main Street will have reopened with their “own version” of summer operations for 2020.
“It gives you more control of the outcome of your business,” she said about the ability to reopen after the shutdowns.
Another business along Main Street, the spa PuraVida on Main, has been closed since March 15 and plans to reopen on Friday. The spa, located in the Main & Sky hotel, is readying a detailed protocol for the reopening as it strives to protect workers and customers in an environment where one-on-one touching is imperative to the services.
The PuraVida on Main owner, David Greenholtz, said workers and customers will be required to wear masks, the spa will offer a limited menu of services, the workers and customers must provide 14-day health histories and workers will have their temperature taken twice a day. The spa lobby will be closed, check-ins will be conducted online and appointments will be prepaid. Some of the services will not be offered upon the reopening.
He said it will be “definitely a changed experience” when PuraVida on Main reopens. The projection for business is unknown, Greenholtz said. A survey of 200 clients found 90% would return to the spa, he said, describing a visit as a “little break from reality.”
“Everyone’s been cooped up …” he said, adding that a trip to a spa is enjoyable. “Everyone’s under a lot of stress.”
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Results of a nonscientific survey essentially show an even split between places that say the pedestrian days have resulted in an increase in sales and those that say they haven’t.