As Mariettans were anticipating the second round of winter weather Tuesday, many flocked to local businesses on the Square to try to get a last meal before the snow fell.
Unlike the January snowstorm, businesses and schools shut down well before snow started falling, and the Square froze for at least two days. As soon as the roads were safe to drive on Friday, customers were back at restaurants and shops around the Square.
Busy before, busy after storm hit
“We were slammed,” said Jim Tidwell, the owner of The Local, a new restaurant on the Square.
He cooked the remaining fresh vegetables he had on hand, and canceled deliveries for the week.
When the streets froze overnight Tuesday, Tidwell made the call to close shop Wednesday, out of concern for his six-person staff’s safety.
“I can’t afford to hurt them,” he said.
On Thursday morning the roads still didn’t look safe, so Tidwell closed The Local again.
On Friday morning, he said he was itching to get back into his week-old business, and stood among nearly one dozen customers who were in the shop eating breakfast. He expected it to be a busy day, with last-minute Valentine’s Day reservations and people itching to get out of their homes.
By 10:30 a.m., Tidwell said he had served about 40 customers, and would get at least 100 more that afternoon.
He couldn’t predict how the two days closed affected his business, because The Local had just opened last week.
Down the block at the Australian Bakery, Hannah Beyer, a manager, estimated the business lost about $2,000 Tuesday when Bluegrass night was canceled because of the impending storm.
The bakery closed Wednesday and Thursday, which hit the wallets of the wait staff hard, since they didn’t earn any tips, Beyer said.
“Snow days are bad. It’s a nice break, but you don’t get any money,” Beyer said.
On Friday morning, the business was back to normal and busy with customers as Beyer chatted with regulars and took breakfast orders.
“We’re rocking and rolling,” Beyer said.
Tatiana Cicchelli, the owner of Up Dog, a smoothie shop on Church Street, was hit hard.
Cicchelli said having to close Tuesday, then on her busiest day, Wednesday, and again Thursday cost her at least $500 in lost business.
“I was bored. It was terrible,” she said.
Big weekend planned
Cicchelli hoped the weekend would bring in an influx of customers hungry to get out of their homes.
A staple to the Square’s culinary stops, the Marietta Pizza Company, only closed Wednesday and for half of Thursday, when the roads were dangerous, said Sara Harrison, a waitress at MPC.
On Thursday afternoon, when the shop opened back up, Harrison said the place was packed with customers, “happy to get out,” of their homes.
Business owners Friday were anticipating the rush of customers who had been cooped up for days at home and were not too worried about making up the lost business over the Valentine’s Day weekend.
David Reardon, owner of Shillings on the Square, was relieved the storm didn’t hit on one of the busiest weekends of the year.
Reardon was filling the reservation book with last-minute Valentine’s reservations Friday morning and busy decorating the restaurant with red balloons for the roughly 200 anticipated holiday diners.
He was focused on getting through the weekend and was not going to get bogged down thinking about lost business.
“Anything out of the ordinary is never good for businesses. It’s hard on employees when they miss shifts,” Reardon said. “It couldn’t have hit on a better day.”
Shillings was able to open Thursday afternoon, and Reardon said the place quickly filled with customers with cabin fever, who far outnumbered necessary staff.
“We were bombarded,” he said.
Lynn Lumpkin, a manager at Lizards and Lollipopz, a toy store on the Square, said she opened the shop half an hour early Friday because a customer was ready to shop.
Lumpkin wasn’t too worried about the loss of business. Although she missed hours from work, Lumpkin believes families will still need to purchase toys for upcoming birthday parties and events.
“People who lost shopping time are coming anyway, it just put a stay on the shopping,” Lumpkin said.
On Friday morning, Lumpkin was gearing up for a busy day and weekend ahead.
“When things come into your life you don’t expect, once they’re over, they’re over,” Lumpkin said.