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Waco Businesses Preaching Creativity, Community and Resilience Amidst Unprecedented Closures

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Credit: Milo All Day

Following Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver’s official declaration of a local state of disaster Tuesday morning, local business owners and employees were left wondering how their businesses and families would move forward.
Many local businesses were forced to lay off a large percentage of their employees as Deaver announced that all bars, restaurants, and indoor recreation facilities would be forced to close or transition to take-out only.

According to Chris Henderson, an employee at Dichotomy Coffee and Spirits, Common Grounds, and Balcones Distillery, the pace of the changes has been overwhelming for her and her co-workers.

“I feel like every thirty minutes we get a new update, and we’re constantly updating a schedule or changing some operation or getting a new sign made to change our hours.”

Through all the closures and changes, Henderson says that the strength and empathy of her employers has been paramount to the employees' moral.

“Ultimately it’s really nice working for places where, you know, the management and ownership actually cares enough to try to make an effort on the behalf of the employees.”

For Corey McEntyre, owner and chef at Milo’s, the closures have led to a number of difficult decisions and conversations as he’s had to reconcile public health and safety with the livelihood of his employees.

“It’s been, um, I mean terrifying. I think that’s a really good way to put it ... 'Cause, you know I’ve got forty-seven people that kind of rely on me to make the best decisions for them ... You know, that was one of the hardest conversations I’ve had. I’ve shed so many tears having to look people in the eyes and say “this is what we have to do right now. There’s no way around it.”"

Though the changes have certainly made an impact, businesses and employees have used their connections to one another as an anchor as they move forward into an unclear future.

Henderson says that co-workers have rallied around one another to ensure that basic needs are met, despite the widespread effects of the layoffs.

“For the most part people are just trying to make sure that you check on eachother, and, you know nobody has a ton of money, but if it’s the difference in somebody making it or not, most people would rather have a little less and make sure somebody else is okay when it gets down to it, which is really nice ... There’ll be fallout for sure, but you know, we’re all up the same creek. We’ll figure out how to paddle, it’ll be fine."

Molly Noah, communications and design coordinator at the Waco Hippodrome Theater, cites digital connection as a key element of their plan in the coming weeks.

“At the Hippodrome we really partner with quite a few local businesses and community organizations, and we really want to, while our building might not be open, maintain that connection digitally and socially.”

Likewise, McEntyre stressed that local businesses would have to lean on the creativity and hard work that got them started in the first place in order to succeed despite the closures.

“We’re not just business owners, we’re not just doing this grind every day. We are creative, we are resilient, we are strong, and we will persevere through this. Like that’s, that’s who we are ... We’re all coming together, and we’re not gonna let this thing take us."

With 103.3 Waco Public Radio, I’m Sam Cedar.