Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the hardest hit areas has been the business community. Efforts to stop the virus’ spread have led to changes in the way businesses operate.

College Street Pub co-owner Wayne Strickland said his restaurant has closed its main dining room and is doing curbside orders.

“Each day has gotten a little better and we have gotten more sales each day,” he said. “Our customers have been awesome. They have been calling in and placing orders, giving big tips and things like that. It is those type of actions by people in the community that really make you feel good about the relationships that you have made.”

With Gov. Greg Abbott’s order allowing alcohol to be sold in a to-go capacity, College Street Pub has been working with Railport Brewing Company and using some of Railport’s portable beer growlers to serve customers wanting something on tap.

“We will get through this thing,” Strickland said. “It is going to take some time. We might have to make some larger sacrifices before everything gets better. We are just going to keep keeping on as long as we can.”

The Dessert Spot co-owner Elmo Harris said it’s important to provide encouragement to others during what is a difficult time.

“It has been tough, I tell you,” he said. “We hit the wall this past Monday (March 16) with the realization of it all because last week was really great with spring break and everything. This week we had to get our creative juices flowing. Of course, we are only doing takeout, curbside or you can call in your order and we can take it out to you.

“The blessing is we have established some outstanding customers in the city of Waxahachie and they have been truly supportive here at The Dessert Spot,” Harris said. “Even though our sales are not as great as they were a week or two ago, we are still here. It is hard but we are strong believers and, with the support of the community, we are going to make it.”

He and his wife, Arthelia, will take each moment as they come and handle it all with a smile, he said.

“Selling desserts is not a necessity,” he said. “You don’t need that. I had a gentleman come in today who is a frequent customer of ours and, after he made his purchase, he told me that he just got laid off today. I am thinking, ‘You come into The Dessert Spot and you don’t know when your next check is going to be.’

“He said, ‘You guys have been so good to me, this $3 that I am spending is nothing. I am going to find another job.’ That made us feel so good. At the same time, you want to say, ‘You need it more than I do’ but he was like, ‘No, this is what I wanted to do and I am supporting it.’ ”

Even if you’re not making a purchase, just stopping by a business to say hi or to share a kind word is important, Harris said.

“One of the biggest things is to continue to pray for us,” Harris said. “God did not place us here in Waxahachie and create The Dessert Spot just for it to fail. This is just a bump in the road. The world will learn something from this and we will continue to live. We know there is a rainbow at the end of this and we have got to hang on.”

Downtown Merchants Association vice president and owner of the Velvet Angel, Amber Caverly, said many of the downtown shops are waiting to see what happens next.

“We are at the mercy of the city, the county and the powers that be to let us know what we need to do,” she said. “Quite a few of us have reduced hours. I know most of the restaurants are doing takeout or curbside.

“The key ways to support downtown businesses and locals are to shop online, to buy gift cards for future purchases and to stay in contact through social media as far as what our schedules are and what specials we might have going on,” she said, thanking the community for its continued support.

Fresh Market Coffee shop owner Shane Henry said the pandemic has hit his business hard but he and his staff are finding new ways to remain open and serve the community.

“My work family for the most part are college kids that depend on a paycheck,” he said. “That is their source of income to survive. As a business owner, what am I going to do to ensure they have that paycheck and to keep this store open.

“It is a big decision to keep every one of your employees,” Henry said. “The quick decision would be to get behind that bar and not to take a paycheck and work, but Fresh has not been like that for a while. It is about keeping those guys making an income.”

One of the ways Fresh is keeping its doors open is through its new online ordering system.

“Several employees and I have worked days on end to get our entire menu online,” he said. “You go to Getfresh.coffee/orders and it will pull up our online ordering. Call us when you get here and we will bring it outside.

“We are still doing a full breakfast and lunch menu,” he said. “If you’re not comfortable with online, call the store. We are trying to be accessible as we can.”

His employees are dedicated to serving the community, which is something that “can’t be lost, replicated or replaced,” Henry said. “They are passionate about the people that they serve.”

And, as part of that service and as a way to say thank you, Fresh is giving a free cup of coffee to first responders and H-E-B employees who are in uniform or who have their nametag.

“I am encouraged by whom our leaders and businesses are in this town and what our future will look like,” Henry said. “I am confident that we are going to survive. We may look different on the other side but our buildings are not going to be empty and that is because of what this community is.”

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