Mar. 13—When COVID-19 led to the closure of in-person dining a year ago, Adonna Houle-Scamehorn says she didn't think it would last long.
"I had no idea," said the owner of Rainy Days Cafe on Grand Haven's east side. "That was a scary time, but we also didn't think it would last very long."
At that time, very few people imagined that the effects of COVID-19 would still be felt a year later.
Michigan's restaurants have been hit especially hard by the public health crisis. After a brief opening to limited capacities last summer, the state ordered restaurants to halt in-person dining in November. That agonizing closure lasted through Feb. 1, when Michigan restaurants were finally able to open their doors at 25 percent capacity.
The ups and downs have been hard on both restaurant owners and their patrons, Houle-Scamehorn said.
"I have customers I haven't seen because they're scared," she said. "We have a daily regular, she popped in this past summer just to say hi. But she's scared, and I'm sure she's not the only one. I believe people who are scared just won't come in."
The state recently allowed restaurants to increase capacity to 50 percent, which will help as they try to get their feet back underneath them financially.
"I'm fine, but I know a lot of other places with a lot more expenses than I have, and I'm worried about them," Houle-Scamehorn said. "I've even encouraged people to go to other restaurants I know are hurting. I don't want to see any of the restaurants fold in this town."
Like many other restaurants, Rainy Days Cafe offered takeout early in the shutdown, but eventually closed down operations for two and a half months.
Through it all, Houle-Scamehorn has been absolutely overwhelmed by the support she's received.
"I cannot believe how amazing people have been," she said. "We had people giving hundreds of dollars, both in tips and just dropping it off. At Christmastime, I had a business here in town give us an envelope full of cash. They just wanted to help.
"This has really brought out the good in our community," she added. "Recently, on a Sunday, we were really busy and a customer bought for the whole restaurant. There are a lot of really good people in this town."