Open for business
Business was booming at local watering holes and stylists at Troutdale Barber Shop were zipping off months of shaggy hair Friday as East Multnomah County residents ventured out for the county's Phase 1 opening.
"We are happy to be back open. It's nice to get back to normal," said Kathy Phillips, owner of the barber shop.
Restaurants, gyms, malls and personal care businesses in Multnomah County all got the green light to open on Friday, June 19, after being closed for three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. People can now gather in groups of as many as 25 people.
Businesses have to follow strict social distancing, hand washing and other precautions and customers are required to wear masks while visiting businesses as of Wednesday, June 24.
But, if you're going to get a haircut at the Troutdale Barber Shop, don't expect to turn the pages on Golf Magazine while you wait. The barber shop has removed all periodicals and waiting chairs as a safety precaution as part of the Phase 1 reopening of Multnomah County.
The Troutdale Barber Shop, 146 Buxton Road, moved two of its barber chairs to provide 6 feet of distancing between clients. They've removed the waiting chairs inside the building, so patrons can wait on the front porch or in their cars. Haircuts are by appointment only.
The barber shop already had strict disinfecting standards even prior to the pandemic, but has stepped up their efforts even further. Phillips has ordered disposable capes, but until they arrive, the traditional capes will be sanitized between each use.
"My phone has been blowing up," Phillips said, and customers were waiting Friday afternoon, eager to get haircuts after such a long hiatus.
Just down the street from the barber shop, Bandit's Bar & Grill was lively Friday afternoon, with every indoor table filled.
Owner Rob Polanco had removed some tables inside to provide 6 feet of social distancing and set up outdoor tables with shade covers next to the restaurant to accommodate more patrons safely.
Polanco said he was thrilled to be open again, "we've been waiting for this. It's been long three months."
Bandit's customer David, said "I'm glad to be back. It's about time." He was enjoying a cool beverage with two friends.
"I am sorry that this happened. I feel sorry for the small businesses that won't reopen," said David, who only wanted his first name used.
Nearby, Brian Emett was enjoying the sun at a sidewalk table at Ristorante Di Pompello.
"I love this restaurant," he said, "I'm happy business is somewhat back to normal."
Emett said he won't go into the restaurant and has just been getting takeout because he is being extra cautious about the coronavirus as things open up.
Inside, Pompello's has put coverings on every other table, indicating they can't be used, to keep the 6 feet of social distancing.
The popular Troutdale restaurant, at 177 E. Historic Columbia River Highway, remained open for take out business during Multnomah County's shutdown.
"I'm feeling very comfortable, I think we'll do great," said owner Saul Pompeyo of his reopening.
A vendor delivering a couple of cases of supplies hailed Pompeyo and his staff, "long time, no see. I'm so happy you guys have reopened."
Alivia Miller, who owns Wink & Wax Esthetic Studio in downtown Gresham, said her business got ready for a possible opening early.
"We've been prepping. We got a professional cleaner in who deep cleaned all the surfaces. We have bleach spray and wipes with bleach" to use on all the surfaces between each client.
Wink & Wax is checking every detail. It has two pen holders, one for unused and another for used pens. They'll sanitize the used ones before putting them back out to be used again.
Clients who forget their face mask will be provided one and there is hand sanitizer available.
The salon, at 329 N.E. Hood Ave., does waxing, facials and eyelash extensions, and adhered to strict cleaning standards even before the pandemic.
Wink & Wax doesn't have to worry as much about social distancing, because their work is done one-on-one in individual rooms. But, clients will need to make an appointment and will be asked to wait outside until their esthetician is ready for them.
Wink & Wax's two full-time and one part-time employee are back at work and their appointment books are filling up, Miller said.
"We've been getting texts, 'You open yet? You open yet?'" Miller said. "They're extremely grateful we're opening up."
The first pour of Phase 1 reopening at Gresham's The Hoppy Brewer came at 9:30 a.m., one hour before the downtown brewery officially opened. The regular was too excited to wait.
They ordered a Willetized BBA Coffee Stout, from Lagunitas — a powerful way to start the day. But the delicious beer perfectly fit the festive atmosphere in downtown Gresham as cars lined the streets and families soaked up the sun.
"It's amazing," said Steve Kraus, owner of Hoppy Brewer, with a massive smile. "I am pumped to be back."
Kraus spent the afternoon laughing with friends and neighboring business owners at an outdoor table in front of Hoppy at 328 N. Main Ave. It was a relief to relax after almost 100 days of COVID-19 restrictions that had everyone struggling to make ends meet.
"If I didn't receive a PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loan, I don't know if I would be open today," Kraus said.
Hoppy's sales were down to 25-30% of what they normally brought in. It was growler and crowler fills, as well as home brewing sales that kept the business afloat as Kraus waited for the opening to finally arrive.
"I am really thankful to everybody who supported us from day one," he said.
It was similar support at The Hangout Sports Bar & Grill, 576 N.E. Burnside Road in Gresham, that was able to keep them hanging on through quarantine.
It wasn't easy — owner Sam Collins had to dip into savings to keep his head above water, and things were tense as the social distancing stretched on and false start openings caused further delays.
But it was all worth it seeing Hangout safely packed Friday afternoon. Just an hour into reopening for dine-in, the bar and grill was at capacity, filled with laughing customers.
During the shutdown, Collins made some needed updates to The Hangout. The business got new floors, five new 50-inch televisions, and the kitchen was repainted. They are also working on bringing more outdoor seating to allow more customers to safely distance while enjoying a meal and brew.
Both Wink & Wax and the Troutdale Barber Shop owners also said they tapped into personal savings to pay their rent.
Miller from Wink & Wax and said that if the shutdown had lasted another month, she may have had to close her business.
The Hangout's Collins said "The community supported us and made a huge difference. Thank you Gresham."
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