Area businesses adapt to social distancing

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Business owners adapt to changes brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak.  Absher’s Garage owners Brittany and Mark Absher have seen a steady stream of auto repair customers in recent weeks.  “It’s picked up,” Brittany Absher said. “I think it’s because everyone’s at...

  • Megan Arnold readies a food order for Norman Mizell at Callahan Country Kitchen. Photo by Kathie Colgrove
    Megan Arnold readies a food order for Norman Mizell at Callahan Country Kitchen. Photo by Kathie Colgrove
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Business owners adapt to changes brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Absher’s Garage owners Brittany and Mark Absher have seen a steady stream of auto repair customers in recent weeks. 

“It’s picked up,” Brittany Absher said. “I think it’s because everyone’s at home and they’re able to drop their vehicles off.” 

Essential services provided by automobile repair businesses, restaurants, grocery and liquor stores are allowed to operate under a recent “Safer at Home” state mandate, which requests that residents refrain from non-essential activities and stay home until at least April 30. 

The threat of infection by the Coronavirus has employees sanitizing their hands and areas where they work more frequently.

“We wash our hands every time we get in and out of a vehicle,” Mark Absher said.

The owners have also utilized seat and steering wheel covers and increased the use of sanitizing wipes. Plans include adding social distancing practices such as helping customers individually outside of the building instead of inside. 

“I think we will be modifying our schedules and how we do things,” Brittany Absher said. 

Some retail stores, hair salons and other businesses are considered non-essential like Small Town Rags Boutique and Gifts in Callahan. 

“We voluntarily closed about a week ago,” said Ashton Whitson, adding that curbside pick-up is available after online purchases are made. “It’s a service that people like. They feel like they’re being catered to.” 

Whitson also manages Callahan Country Kitchen, which is owned by Jack and Cindy Lloyd. The dining room is closed, but the establishment is open for take out and delivery.  

“It’s reduced our business about one-third of what we were doing before all this started,” Jack Lloyd said. 

To offset the reduction in business, he now has Boston butt, ribs and grilled chicken available in addition to the regular menu. 

“Everybody needs to stay safe. That’s the most important thing,” he said. “Please support all your small businesses in town.” 

Callahan’s Carolyn Bray frequents the restaurant. 

“Every day,” she said. “It’s the best thing that’s happened in Callahan.” 

Her favorite menu items among the fried chicken, hamburgers and Philly cheesesteak available are the pork chops. 

“I love everything,” Bray said. “But I love the pork chops.”

Whitson said that the restaurant made a quick turnaround to close the dining room and change to take out and delivery options.

“We had to just completely change how we were doing it in just two hours,” she said, adding, “I think we’re all ready for some normalcy.” 

Joel Pace Piano and Music has closed due to the mandate, which includes instructions to close all non-essential businesses. 

Pace holds events in Nassau County and teaches numerous music students from the area.

“I’m trying to stay in contact in with my clients,” Pace said. “We are doing some online lessons. But because of some students having special needs and not having lessons in person, means that those online lessons are not always as productive.” 

Some of his students rely on musical instruments that he furnishes at his studio. 

“I’m actually taking a few days to develop a studio plan in the event we have to go past April 30,” Pace said. 

He is also posting free online instructional videos for beginning students and non-students. The free lessons can be found at Facebook.comJoelPacePiano.

“I’m looking forward to reopening the studio as soon as possible,” Pace said. “I miss all of my students.” 

 kcolgrove@nassaucountyrecord.com