APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – After nearly three years of business on Appleton’s Wisconsin Avenue, the owners of Harmony Pizza Cafe have made the decision to close permanently.
“Smaller folks like us, who are already kind of on a shoestring, we don’t have the resources to call upon during a crisis like this,” Co-Owner Matty Burns explained.
The restaurant joins a growing number of businesses in the area forced to make the difficult decision.
“A place like ours depends on people hanging out and being close to one another, that was the whole point of Harmony,” Burns said, “so the whole take out/delivery thing was never going to be enough to sustain us. As time went on, an already very small margin disappeared.”
In that, Harmony Pizza is not alone.
“Restaurants and the tourism industry are just overwhelmingly hit by this,” President and CEO of the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce Becky Bartoszek said.
That is in part because of the unknowns.
“Not knowing how quickly they’ll be able to open their businesses back up and how many people they’ll be able to serve at a time definitely has put these businesses in a position where they don’t know how to move forward,” Bartoszek said.
The unknowns were a factor in the closure of Harmony, “Not knowing what’s going to happen in the future, even when the stay at home order is lifted, when it’s lifted, we don’t know exactly how many people are going to be coming out,” Burns explained.
Saving businesses means eliminating those unknowns.
“What we need is a plan,” Bartoszek said. “We need a solid plan in place that helps us figure out as a business community how we can move forward and start to reopen business in a very safe manner.”
For Northeast Wisconsin’s businesses, time is ticking.
“Our businesses need to find a way to reopen their doors as soon as possible,” Bartoszek said.
They need a plan before more businesses are faced with making the decision to close.
“You’re staring reality in the face, there’s only so much you can do and you have to accept it, so in that way it wasn’t hard, there was no other option, but emotionally it’s very difficult to say goodbye,” Barns said.