HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Restaurants, bars, and breweries across the state are taking dramatic action to practice social distancing. Many businesses are closing traditional table services and instead offering curbside pickup and takeout options.
The governor’s office mandated these measures for businesses in Birmingham and surrounding counties. Owners of restaurants and bars in other areas of the state, including here in the Tennessee Valley, are making their own operating decisions.
A Huntsville business owner said his dreams are on hold as long as the coronavirus continues to spread.
In 2017, Matt Johnson made a risky move. He left his comfortable desk job at the arsenal to turn his baking hobby into a new career. But for now, it’s a waiting game for the grand opening of his new store front Canadian Bakin. “I wanted to make something with my hands and this bread is perfect for that. I get to hand it to people and see how happy it makes somebody. I like that.”
It’s been years in the making. “Trying it out, seeing if it would work and it did,” said Johnson. The finishing touches added to Canadian Bakin. Fresh baked bread ready to go. The hot coffee brewed. “Slated for next week. So, we were going to open next week.” But as coronavirus fears mount and officials encourage people not to gather in crowds, all of Matt Johnson’s hard work now on standby. “We were going to have our grand-opening and have the specialty coffee like lattes and all the espresso drinks. Sandwiches on the bread that we bake fresh every morning here. That is not going to happen anymore. At least for the foreseeable future.”
He said he is taking it day by day hoping to keep his 10 employees on the clock. “It is just hard. We want to keep people working as much as we can, but we can't have people working as much as we were planning on,” said Johnson. “The bakers are getting a lot of extra training that we hadn't planned for so that is the silver lining.”
Johnson knows he is not alone. Local businesses across the country are being hit and must find creative ways to keep their doors open. “We are going to keep doing as much as we can with people especially with people who want fresh bread. They can still pick it up here. It is just not going to be how we wanted it. They can't come and enjoy the nice atmosphere we have create now, but down the line.”
Canadian Bakin has opened online ordering. People can place orders and pick it up at their Church Street location. Johnson will do that as long as it’s needed.