HAWTHORNE, NJ - If you peeked inside Rub A Dub Doggie on Thursday, you’d find Jerry Scillia carefully sheering Cooper, a large well-behaved Berne Doodle.
Like many of Hawthorne’s business owners, Jerry’s message to the town is simple. We’re open.
“I’ll be open until they close nonessential businesses,” says Scillia. “I’ll come in for even one dog because I want to keep my customers and my dogs happy.”
As communities and businesses across the country respond to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic by closing down — temporarily or permanently — many Hawthorne business owners are choosing to weather the storm as they find new ways to keep their businesses going.
Hawthorne residents can still grab a meal, fix their vehicles, buy a home, or stop at a convenience store.
During what is typically the busy season for the real estate industry, Celeste Iapichino, a realtor with ERA AJ Cali, says she coaxes potential home buyers and sellers with the new normals.
“We let home buyers know that when you go into someone’s house, we suggest wearing booties and using wipes on the handles,” says Iapichino. “Homeowners are also leaving cabinets and closets open, so the buyer can get a good look around without having to disrupt or touch anything.”
Inside Celtic Corner, the Irish restaurant and pub, owners David McGoldrick and Roy O’Donovan consider new options.
“People are going to get sick of cooking at home,” says McGoldrick. “We’re going to branch out into family meals — four meals in one. For instance, you could get pasta with chicken with salad. You’ll come in and pick up a box of food and feed everybody.”
“We’re going to try to do this to keep our staff working,” says O’Donovan. “We’ll try this for the foreseeable future.”
The new rules for restaurants now limit service to carry out or delivery. Most open restaurants will take orders by phone, walk-up, or online, even if they’ve had to cut hours.
“If you’re hungry, we’re here to serve the town,” says Paul Beaugard of the popular eatery Bogie’s Hoagies. “We’re grateful we can stay open. As long as I can get product to carry on with business, I’ll stay open.”
It’s a similar sentiment echoed by Rei Vazquez, who owns El Gallo, a neighborhood Mexican restaurant.
“If business is a little slow in the morning, I’ll cut off a few hours from lunch to save some cost. I’m not going to lay off,” says Vazquez. “I try to support the town as much as I can. I know everyone is struggling right now, but the human spirit is strong. It’s all about coming together as a community and getting through tough times.”
Around the corner, Jose Rojas sits in the quiet Hawthorne Convenience Store, where he would typically expect a lunch crowd from the local high school. He will also try to keep regular hours. “I’m lucky enough because my wife and I work together,” Rojas says. “I don’t have another person to pay that I have to worry about. But I still have to support the family.”
You can do more than eat in Hawthorne. Carrie Bickford, Hawthorne Chevy finance manager, says they are still open as well.
“We are still open, and thankfully, we aren’t terribly dead,” says Bickford. “People are still coming in and buying cars.”
From buying cars to fixing them or using them to pick up a meal, there are plenty of options still in Hawthorne.
“Come out and patronize the small business owner,” says Don Keiser of Hawthorne Auto Lab, who is considering picking up cars that need repairs. “Come out and get that bagel and coffee. Even though it’s small, it means a lot to the owner. Everyone is panicking to the food store, and the shelves are cleared out, but there’s plenty of food available. Use your small businesses and patronize them if you can.”
Governor Phil Murphy has ordered a number of businesses closed, with restrictions in place for others, by executive order. The governor, health authorities, and Hawthorne Mayor Richard Goldberg strongly advise all residents to practice "social distancing", frequently wash their hands with soap and water, and disinfect surfaces. Social distancing is where individuals maintain at least six feet from others to reduce the chance of contact from coughs and sneezes.
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