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Opinion: Find ways to support Newark businesses during the coronavirus crisis

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Take-out sign

A sidewalk sign promotes take-out options at Pachamama on Main Street.

Even though I no longer own a brick-and-mortar business in Newark, I still choose to drink my coffee, have business lunches and host the majority of my road races here.

I do this for a couple of reasons. I have become friends with many small business owners and employees in Newark, and I like working with friends.

I also love this town. It has become home to me over the years, and I want to support the businesses that keep Newark thriving.

Earlier in the year, Newark businesses took a big hit. Construction on Main Street has kept some people away from shopping and eating downtown. After a mild winter and summer around the corner, these same business owners could see the finish line. With construction nearing the end, most thought the town soon would be back to its bustling self.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed all that. I cannot imagine the ripple effect this is going to cause our city, let alone the nation.

While we stay home and isolate to keep the virus from spreading in our community, it’s a good time to re-evaluate our lives and think about how we do business, both professionally and personally.

Newark is a thriving community. Over the years, I have seen amazing things happen when our city gets together and works as a family. From my personal experience, I’ve seen residents rally to raise money for the Newark Police K-9 unit, Preston’s Playground, Move 2 IncluDE adaptive race chairs and the Newark PAL.

I have no doubt that Newark will bounce back from this temporary closure and be stronger than ever. But in the meantime, I think we can all do our part to support the people who support this community. It means we have to think outside the box on how we can support them.

Here are just a few ways:

Coffee drinkers: You can stop by Drip Café or Little Goat and pick up a bag of coffee beans or grind to make their delicious coffee at home.

Lunch/Dinner: Almost all of the local restaurants offer a take-out option. So you can still get those delicious nachos from Kate’s, burgers from Deer Park, or pizza from Grotto’s to enjoy in the comfort of your home. While these are staples in this town, do not forget the smaller shops like Long Play Cafe or Bing’s Bakery. There are so many choices in Newark when it comes to foods and treats.

Drinks: Become a beer connoisseur during this time and fill up a growler from Iron Hill or the Delaware Growler.

Arts/Crafts: Stop by the National 5 & 10 and pick up some art supplies. They have a huge selection of items to keep your kids busy over the next week or so.

While there are too many Newark spots to list, remember that small businesses and their staff need us in a time like this. Already, it’s hard to imagine how the dine-in restaurant restrictions mandated by Gov. John Carney will impact the service industry.

Our friends and family who normally rely on tips as part of their pay now have no income for the foreseeable weeks. My friend, Robbie Jester, reminded me of the sacrifices the service industry makes all the time, working on weekends, holidays and late nights. Now, they are home with the rest of us.

“These are my people who bring so much joy to others and smile through the pain,” said Jester, executive chef with High 5 Hospitality.

From school closings to employees working remotely, business as usual has changed. Fusion Racing has had to cancel or postpone around 15 races, and potentially more. This is close to 4,000 people who have already paid for an event that is either not happening anymore or must be rescheduled.

While I was devastated by this, it made me change the way I was thinking. We have created a virtual running/walking challenge. This challenge not only will help our bottom line in a time like this, but will provide motivation and an outlet for people.

During these times, even if you do not have the resources to help out these small businesses financially, send them a note. Tell them you are thinking of them and you look forward to helping them out once this passes. Repost something for them on social media to let them know you care.

We should continue to do what we can – even while distancing – to support the heartbeat of our beloved community. Eventually, we will be back together, and that’s when we can make good on the request from Jester, Newark’s own celebrity chef.

“As soon as we all get through it, please for the love of God have a beer at your local spot,” he said. “They need it more than ever.”

Nic DeCaire previously owned Fusion Fitness and now runs Fusion Racing.

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