In this series, ActionCOACH Mary Ann Hauser (MAH) and team virtually sit down with business owners to learn how they are working through COVID-19. Check out their inspiring stories for tips on how to cope with and successfully recover from this pandemic as well as ideas on how to avoid making common mistakes. And be sure to look at special offers from these businesses – we can all use a little extra help right now!
MH: Coach Mary Ann Hauser
SB: Susan Burleson, Owner of Kepley’s Barbeque
MH: Tell me a little bit about what you do and how long you’ve been doing it.
SB: Kepley’s Barbecue opened in 1948, and my dad was actually working here when it opened. Then, in 1962, Mr. Kepley sold the restaurant to my dad and his son-in-law, and then I came on board in 2001. We make everything from scratch – hand-chopped Eastern style vinegar-based barbecue, homemade coleslaw, homemade chili for our hot dogs, and so on. The thing that makes us stand apart is that we’ve been here a long time and we make everything from scratch.
MH: What has been the biggest impact of COVID-19 on your business?
SB: Business has decreased because of the pandemic – we shut down for a month at the beginning, but now that we’re back open, some customers are still concerned about coming in. We now have the dining room open with limited seating, but due to the social distancing restrictions, at lunch we often have people waiting for a place to sit. We now do a lot of curbside service and takeout.
MH: What are one or two actions that you’ve taken because of pandemic?
SB: Everyone wears masks, we constantly wipe down the doors and counters and tables – everything that people come into contact with – and we’re all trying to stay six feet apart.
MH: What is your biggest learning through all of this?
SB: I’ve learned that we have some really loyal customers, and how the economy can make or break our businesses. We’ve had to adjust to the idea of not having the Furniture Market this year, and we won’t be able to cater big events for a while, but we’re grateful for our faithful customers. We still catered several graduations this year by prepping the food and then dropping it off at people’s houses.
MH: What is most inspiring to you today?
SB: It was inspiring to me that locally, our community pulled together and worked together to get through this. All of our long–term employees came back after we re-opened, so it showed me that good people stick together. We’re doing our best to stop the spread of this virus. It inspired me to see our loyal customers still coming in because they feel safe here and feel at home here, and in some cases, their parents and grandparents ate here.
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