Like many small businesses, Blue Moose Café saw its share of struggles due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unlike many small businesses, a temporary shuttering of doors was exactly that — temporary.
According to owner Gary Tannenbaum, the popular downtown coffee shop, located at 248 Walnut Street, will reopen its doors on March 1.
The café announced its stopgap closure days after the calendar flipped to 2021, in addition to furloughing the six remaining employees on the staff. The kitchen had previously been shut down in December, with two cooks losing their jobs.
In a Jan. 5 post to the eatery’s Facebook page, Tannenbaum said that he could not sustain business the way that things were going.
“Well, the friggin Covid 19 [sic] virus has dealt us a blow,” Tannenbaum wrote. “Don't worry, no one here has gotten sick or tested positive....thank goodness. The economic reality of trying to do business through a pandemic has taken it's toll. I just can't sustain business without customers coming in.”
According to Tannenbaum, the business had seen less than half its usual customer base due to the pandemic. The drastic decrease in revenue resulted in financial struggles, making Blue Moose Café one of many Morgantown eateries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
After previously fighting to sustain the business through Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and money received through the CARES Act, Tannenbaum said that he could not pay the bills or meet the payroll.
“But all small businesses are having a hard time, and a lot have closed up, you know, like Black Bear [Burritos] downtown,” Tannenbaum told The DA. “I was hoping that they would roll out the P.P.P. before I had to shut down the doors, so I could keep going.”
He says that Blue Moose Café was able to set March 1 as the reopening date with the help of the Small Business Administration through the use of the Payroll Protection Program, but others haven’t been as lucky. Tannenbaum urges customers to support local businesses in Morgantown in order to help keep them in business.
Tannenbaum plans to err on the side of caution when reopening, saying that there would be increased safety measures implemented at the café.
“We are going to be trying to do more things to make things safer at the cafe, like air purifiers and better ventilation,” Tannenbaum said.
It isn’t certain whether or not the kitchen will resume operations along with the establishment’s reopening, but Tannenbaum is hoping that he can bring back the furloughed employees.
Yet, despite the uncertainty that the future holds, Tannenbaum is eager for what’s in store.
“Take THAT....covid 19 pandemic...,” he wrote on Facebook, ”you can't keep a good cafe down.”