Small businesses innovate amid pause restrictions and winter weather

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) –A nor’easter, followed by frigid winds, snuffed out business for restaurants on a crucial weekend.

“There’s no way to candy coat it,” said Rick Simone of the Federal Hill Commerce Association. “It really just took the carpet right out from everybody right in the middle of this pause.”

He estimates it’s adding up to be an 80 percent loss for restaurants.

“The weather’s the weather, you can only do so much about it,” Simone said. “But when you’re adding it to the COVID circumstances right now, it’s pretty devastating.”

The two-week pause is forcing restaurants to make changes.

“Restaurants are closing, they are taking a break during this pause,” he said. “Some of them even longer if they have to. But more than that, we’re seeing that restaurants are altering their hours. So they’re cutting their hours from being open seven days a week to four days a week, which unfortunately, takes a toll on the staff.”

Simone admits that efforts to get people out, like Christmas on the Hill, may not be enough.

“Right now it doesn’t feel like anything’s enough,” he said. “No matter how hard we try, how hard we’re pushing, all the partnerships we’re doing, it doesn’t feel like enough.”

But there is a new partnership they hope will help: a new delivery service from an app called DASAP (Delivery As Soon As Possible), where you can get anything from Federal Hill delivered for free – with a bottle of SaniTides hand sanitizer included.

“The community is working together, supporting small businesses,” said Jim Verity of SaniTides. “We’re trying to involve as many people as we can. It also provides a great experience for the consumer, it’s providing a safety product.”

Diners say they plan to use the app themselves.

“If you’re willing to give them a chance, and try things out like the new to-go’s, the delivery system, it will make a huge difference to them personally because these are small businesses, which means they’re real families,” said Ashley Drouillard of Cumberland.

Deliveries using DASAP are free within a 12-mile radius of Federal Hill for the rest of the month.


Categories: Coronavirus, News, Rhode Island