Blair Businesses

Businesses in Blair, such as Billy's Blair Maple Cafe, are gaining more customers as businesses are open completely.

The lights are on and the doors are unlocked as businesses returned to 100 percent capacity after being limited due to coronavirus restrictions. For many it is a slow start, but they are seeing customers come through their doors.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts announced the loosening of restrictions with Phase 3 on June 15, allowing for bars and restaurants to reopen dining rooms to 100 percent rated occupancy.

At Billy's Blair Maple Cafe, which has been open for about seven weeks now, Azure Miller said they are almost back to normal.

“We are at about 75-80 percent and waiting for more people to come back,” she said. “Weekends are almost back.”

The thing they are missing is the crowd that’s come in for years.

“It’s been weeks since those who are 20 years faithful have been in,” Miller said.

Up the block from them at Acme Fabric and Quilt, classes are beginning to open again. Chris Hoffman, shopkeeper, said the store was technically closed during the pandemic, but customers picked up items periodically in the alley.

“We had a locked front door for several weeks, but I haven't sent an email to customers to say we are open,” she said. “I don't want to say it's business as usual because we have a lot who are hesitant to come out because of the age group of our customers.”

They are doing what they can to ease the minds of the customers, taking precautions, having sanitary wipes and other things. Classes are set up 6 feet apart and the store is limiting the number of open sews.

“The last few weeks we eased back to having classes,” she said. “The ladies are happy. Some ladies were excited we did cancel because they didn't want to come out.”

Fernando's Cafe and Cantina is easing back to being open full time. They are not open on Mondays, but the restaurant is open Tuesday through Friday.

“We are having trouble finding help,” co-owner Brenda Gutschow said. “We need a full staff and to pay the bills to open it back up.”

Co-owner Terry Gutschow said last Saturday was “a great day.”

“Otherwise we are running at 15-20 percent,” he said. “We'd done better with to-go orders.”

Shoppers are browsing at Tighe It With a Bow.

“We had some good sidewalk sales, so that helped,” owner Ann Tighe said. “Classes will be starting up again (Thursday), with masks recommended, so we'll see if that helps, too.”

Adam Price, owner of Main Street BBQ and Grill, said the bar scene changed, but the lunch crowds are not affected.

"They just opened the bar games," he said. "But other than that I'm doing good."

Red Brick Bar and Grill is gaining customers, according to owner Craig Anderson.

“It's getting better and it seems like every week business is getting better,” he said. “It’s still down, but people are hesitant to go out. A lot aren't working so they don't have the extra money to go out more than once a week.”

He said people are sick of being home so they're going out, but the lack of income might stop them.

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