Storrs businesses adjust to COVID-19 regulations and UConn changes

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Many local businesses have had to close or reduce hours due to COVID-19 and the Dog Lane Cafe is no exception. The Dog Lane Cafe is located in Storrs Center.  File Photo/The Daily Campus

Many local businesses have had to close or reduce hours due to COVID-19 and the Dog Lane Cafe is no exception. The Dog Lane Cafe is located in Storrs Center. File Photo/The Daily Campus

Storrs businesses have been adapting their practices to fit COVID-19 changes as University of Connecticut students finish the spring semester remotely.

Steve Smith, co-owner of Dog Lane Café, said that their transition has not been an easy one. Smith said that the café has faced a major decline in their business. 

“The transition has been very difficult,” Smith said. “Our business has decreased dramatically.”

Smith said Dog Lane Café is currently offering ways for students to continue their support from home. They are offering a 10% addition to any gift card purchase over $200, but Smith said that students can also provide support through social media.

“If they want to purchase a gift card to use when we resume normal hours, that would help us with cash flow now,” Smith said. “As far as supporting us now, they could show us some social media love. Sharing our menus on Instagram or Facebook. Telling a story about what they liked about us and what they miss would be cool, too.”

Additionally, Smith said Dog Lane Café is offering a program to support local nurses and healthcare workers. This program gives students the ability to support both the café and Connecticut’s healthcare workers.

“We have started a ‘sponsor a nurse/healthcare worker’ program,” Smith said. “People can buy a boxed lunch that we will deliver to a local hospital…It is a great feeling to be able to still provide some hospitality.”

Khaldoun Mahmoud, owner of Gansett Wraps, reported similar business difficulties. Despite the estimated 60% loss of business, Mahmoud said there are still students who support him and his wife’s business.

“A couple students are coming, there’s a couple kids on campus, they call up or they place an order on our website, and I can deliver for them or they pick it up curbside,” Mahmoud said.

Mahmoud said that the slowed business has led to only he and his wife working in their restaurant. He said that they typically hire many UConn students, but most of their staff is now off-campus.

“We had a lot of students working for us, and most of them are home, and most of their parents won’t let them come back,” Mahmoud said. “A couple of them are still here, but I don’t have a job for them because it’s been slow.”

Mahmoud has maintained a positive outlook despite the current circumstances. He and his wife feel everyone’s safety at this time is the most pressing matter.

“As a business owner,  I think we have to go through it, we have to be strong and get through it. Hopefully, everybody’s safe, that’s the most important thing,” Mahmoud said. “Business goes back and forth; one day you lose business and the other day you gain it, but you can’t gain life.”

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Thomas Alvarez is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at thomas.alvarez@uconn.edu.

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