OGDEN, Utah – Business owners on Ogden's historic 25th Street face an uncertain future as the economy tries to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s killing us. We aren’t sure what to do,” said Anna Davidson, who co-owns Jesse Jean’s.
The café has seen business tail off since reopening in May. Now, Davidson worries about how much longer the doors can remain open.
“I have about a month,” Davidson said. “Having to think about a decision like that is gut wrenching. I try to keep my staff in the present. Worry about those tough decisions when we are actually there.”
As Ogden considers shutting 25th Street to vehicle traffic to allow restaurants to expand with tables on the street, Davidson says business owners need more help.
“They don’t realize that we have been running short staff, and to do those things we’d need more staff, and we can’t spend that money now because we don’t know what will happen,” Davidson said.
Other restaurants are facing similar struggles.
“We are down about 50 percent [of sales] from last year,” said A.J. Hubbard, the owner of Hearth on 25th, located just two doors down from Jesse Jean's.
Another business owner painted a grim picture.
“We are bare bones right now,” said Richard Vondrus, the owner of Endless Indulgence Retro Wear. “If it goes on another six months, who knows if any of these businesses will be open. It’s hard.”
Most of the stores and restaurants on 25th Street are locally owned small businesses. Owners, managers and employees consider each other family.
“There’s so much division, that I wanted to bring together the support of businesses helping each other,” Davidson said.
The business community is trying to find solutions and ways to survive.
On Monday, several business owners wearing masks met outside to discuss the future.
Answers aren’t easy to find, but business owners believe it will take the entire community, from elected leaders and customers, pitching in to make it to the other side of this pandemic.
“It’s like the prisoner’s dilemma,” Hubbard said. “It’s like some people don’t believe in vaccination or masks. Some people do. We all got to come together to speed up this recovery.”