Carson businesses report good support as they reopen with restrictions
CARSON CITY, Nev. — Some Carson City businesses opened their doors this past weekend after Gov. Steve Sisolak moved the state into the first phase of recovery.
Sisolak announced late Thursday afternoon that starting Saturday restaurants, retailers, hair salons and other businesses could open to customers under stringent restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“When we came in on Friday we had 18 phone messages and 79 people had booked online,” said Starr Nixdorf, who with her husband Perry owns Paradise Salon Spa Wellness. “That’s an indication of how badly people wanted us to open back up.”
On Saturday, the salon had three hair stylists working at a safe distance from one another. The salon’s nail technician took clients, as always, in a separate room.
By Friday of this week, Nixdorf hopes to have all seven stylists working after installing partitions between their work stations, which each have their own sink.
Salons have to follow rules set by the Nevada State Board of Cosmetology, including the recommendation that masks be worn by both clients and personnel, and restrictions on services.
Nixdorf said customers over the weekend were fine following the new procedures, although not all of them read the guidelines posted on the salon’s doors.
“What’s going to be really hard is customer service. People can’t wait in the client lounge, we can’t serve them water or tea,” said Nixdorf. “I worry about all those reviews.”
Jim Phalan, owner of the Fox Brewpub, understands that.
“We had a few good reviews and some bad reviews,” said Phalan. “We were out of practice.”
The downtown restaurant started serving at noon Saturday, making 11 tables on its patio available.
“It was like the floodgates opened. We were busy,” said Phalan.
Sunday, Mother’s Day, was busy, too, and windy. At one point, staff was spraying sanitizer on a table and a gust carried it to the next table.
“The patron was upset. We offered to pay for her lunch,” said Phalan, but she wrote a bad online review instead.
On Monday, the brewpub opened up inside as well, at half capacity as required by the reopening regulations.
“If we can maintain (the business) we did on Monday, we’ll be OK,” said Phalan.
Both Nixdorf and Phalan applied for and received Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program loans, and both said it is helping keep their businesses afloat.
“That has really taken a lot of stress off us,” said Nixdorf.
Several Carson City restaurants are waiting to open. Mark Estee, owner of Cucino Lupo and The Union, both downtown, posted on Facebook that both restaurants would open next week — the Italian eatery on May 19 and the taphouse on May 18 — after training employees on new procedures. The Union continues to offer curbside pickup.
Sassafras Eclectic Food Joint posted online that pickup is available but that a date to reopen the dining room had not been determined yet. And Glen Eagles left its opening up in the air.
“Glen Eagles will remain closed while phase restrictions are in place,” read a Facebook post. “We miss all of our customers and look forward to opening when the restrictions are more conducive to the pleasurable dining experience our customers are accustomed to.”
Red’s Old 395 Grill, which has been providing curbside takeout, opened its dining room on Monday.
“We wanted to make sure we executed everything to the standard of the health department,” said Jaime Lopez, manager. “One of the things we learned is not everyone is ready to dine out.”
Lopez said the restaurant saw steady business but customers were still more interested in takeout.
Some restaurants are reportedly not opening during this first phase of recovery because even if business picks up, serving at half capacity does not cover operating costs.
But Lopez said Red’s is committed to staying open.
“We’re not doing it to make a profit,” said Lopez. “We’re doing it to take care of our employees.”
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.