Broadway Bar: ‘We can’t survive without opening’

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A new study by a Michigan hospitality association found 33% of Michigan restaurants, bars and hotels say they will be closed in six months if they don’t get financial aid or reopen.

Some local business say they won’t even last that long.

The Broadway Bar on Broadway Avenue NW at 6th Street is normally busy this time of year. It’s famous for a huge, colorful Christmas display, with decorations packing the space from floor to ceiling.

“I love seeing all the people in here. I do it for the kids, you know,” Tom Schuitema, who sets up the decorations, said.

“Adults love it almost more than the children do, I really think,” added Nikki Landon, whose mom and grandfather bought the bar more than 27 years ago. “I think this (helps them escape) from their whole entire day… That might be the best thing.”

She said people come from all over to see how the bar is decorated during the holidays. Eighty percent of the year’s profit is made during these few months.

This year, even though the décor is up, people can’t come in.

“What do you do? You got to keep people smiling, and this isn’t working, so I’m glad that at least people can see it through the TV,” Landon said.

If you have ever stopped in to Broadway Bar, you know it’s a small space. When 50% capacity was allowed, only about 20 people were allowed in — not enough to pay the bills. Right now, bars and restaurants can’t serve anyone in person.

“We miss them as much as they miss us, I really think. I really do,” Landon said of her customers.

Without that family atmosphere, takeout food sales didn’t take off. The family says the business was too small to qualify for loans so they were left to survive on savings, which are drying up.

“We just can’t. We can’t survive without opening again,” Landon said, adding they can only make it through the end of the year.

The current Michigan Department of Health and Human Services order keeping restaurant and bar dining rooms closed runs through Dec. 20, but the restrictions will almost certainly be extended past that.

An online fundraiser has been set up to help Broadway Bar stay afloat.

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