CHATHAM, NJ - Chatham businesses on Main Street seem to be surviving, but everyone is hoping to see more familiar faces on Monday, June 15 when all retail businesses will be allowed to open their doors and eateries can serve seated customers outside.
Joe Baalbaki, owner of Chatham Bagel, said he lost about 40 percent of his business when the Coronavirus lockdown began, but it has leveled off recently.
"I love the people here," he said. "They've come out to support my business. It's been good."
Baalbaki has his eye on expanding his bagel shop by taking over the now-empty DRIP Coffee shop next door, the former Cafe Beethoven, to expand his footprint. He's already consulted with Chatham Engineer Vince DeNave about possibly removing the wall between the two stores.
"Ray Codey, the Madison administrator says that Chatham Bagel is the best bagel shop in New Jersey," Chatham Borough Mayor Thaddeus Kobylarz said. "Whenever I'm headed to Madison, he asks me to pick him up something from Chatham Bagel."
Mayor Kobylarz and Chatham Borough Police Chief Brian Gibbons walked Main Street on Friday afternoon and checked in on businesses in preparation for Phase II of New Jersey's Re-Opening.
There is even talk of blocking off an area of South Passaic Avenue as a sort of food court so that residents can get takeout and eat outside. There are no firm details because of guidelines from Chatham's health officer.
"The challenge now is to pass muster with our health officer," Kobylarz said. "Individual restaurants might take care of sanitizing the area on a round-robin basis."
Mayor Kobylarz encourages Chatham residents to come out and support the local businesses in the video below.
Chief Gibbons encourages businesses to plan for serving customers outside and reminds residents that Covid-19 is not yet gone (see video below).