NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WKBW-TV) — Two well-known North Tonawanda businesses have closed their doors because of New York State COVID-19 regulations and lack of federal stimulus help for small businesses.
"Crazy Jakes" on Webster Street and "Brownie's Sports Bar & Tavern" on Oliver Street have told customers that business conditions during the pandemic made it impossible for them to remain in operation.
"We can't keep our doors open. The money is gone. I can't keep robbing Peter to pay Paul," explained Steve Brown, co-owner of Brownies with his wife.
Brownie's Sports Bar & Tavern opened in June 2019 and was on track to make over a million dollars in revenue - until the pandemic hit.
Steve Brown said he was forced to reduce capacity from 100 people to 42 to comply with NYS regulations. The loss of each seat equated to about $10,000 annually, said Brown. That decrease in customer capacity dropped income to 10%. As a result, Brown closed the businesses which also means 20+ employees are now out of work.
"We built a family here. We were doing great," said a tearful Brown during a Facebook post to his customers. "The politicians are playing politics with our lives. I'm glad they are happy that they can look forward to a paycheck every week."
The Lumber City Development Corporation and Chamber of Commerce of the Tonawandas are also very concerned about constantly changing business regulations from NYS and Congress' lack of action with a new stimulus plan.
"We are all hurting. We've had reduced business flow with not as many customers as you would like," said Doug Taylor, chair of Lumber City Development.
"It has really hurt businesses by not knowing a consolidated plan on what they can do and how they can do things," added Robert Pecoraro, president of the Chamber of Commerce of the Tonawandas.
While there is great concern about the future of North Tonawanda's roughly 200 small businesses, Doug Taylor said three new small businesses are starting operations.
Discussion on a new stimulus package to help struggling individuals and businesses remains stalled in Washington, D.C.