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Seth, Melissa, and Lyla Clark, Blue Valley Bistro

Seth and Melissa Clark, Blue Valley Bistro
Seth, a careful thinker with a level head, and who owns Creswell and Coburg’s Blue Valley Bistros and the Highway 58 Coffee cart in Pleasant Hill, said, ”Hysteria and panic are for the birds, but we are paying attention. If people stop coming in to get coffee, things can change fast.”
He and wife Melissa, his co-owner, said both of their locations are in full compliance, offering only call-in/take-out order through window service. Business is slowing, but they are still offering a full menu until they can assess what demand will be down the road.
They have scaled back staffing, and continue to assess customer demand.
”People have been very supportive and positive so far,” Melissa said.
With no Covid-19 cases yet identified in Lane County, Clark is crossing his fingers, concerned that things will change quickly if local cases are announced. He and Melissa have been in business for 10 years.
”Our business, like many other small businesses, runs on small margins, and cash is air to us. If it goes away, we slowly suffocate.” Asked if his business can survive an extended closure, Clark grimaces and says, ”Probably not.”
”It makes you nervous because we’re always on a tight margin. So far, the retail business has been reasonably constant, but we had three catering cancellations this week in Creswell.” Clark also said his supply chain, which includes Costco, is affected by worried people stocking up on things. ”We’re fine right now, but things are day-to-day. If I can’t get supplies by Monday, we’ll have to make some adjustments.”
Clark said he receives updates from the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA), a business organization for the foodservice and lodging industry. The Clarks noted that many of their clients are in the high-risk category.
”We are concerned about the welfare of our customers, 80% of whom are over 60 years old.” Seth’s mom is a registered nurse living in Corvallis. ”Mom is a source of advice and information for us and Layla,” Clark’s 4-year-old daughter. ”Grandma looks out for her family.”
– Joey Blum

Heidi Tunnell, Creswell Bakery
Heidi is a business owner and mother of two young children, Melvin and Berkley. Besides serving and selling baked goods and food, it’s an essential community gathering place.
Tunnell said she is closely monitoring the virus advisories from ORLA and doing whatever is needed to maintain a safe environment for customers and her 50 employees. Tunnell, like the others mentioned in this story, will have her children at home during the school closure.
– Joey Blum

Creswell Food Pantry
I delivered food to a single mother last Saturday who has no transportation and must walk to stores to get food. She told me that she had seen photos of the empty store shelves and had no idea how she was going to find groceries.
Our elderly food pantry customers were afraid to come Thursday, not knowing if they might be exposed to the virus.
They came and were relieved to find we took steps to keep them safe.
People who normally might not qualify for assistance could now be eligible during time off from work.
Our guidelines include gross monthly income as well as annual income. No proof of income, name, or address are required. We are here to help.
– Susan Blachnik

Gonzalo Roblero, Gonzalo’s Outdoor Home Care
Gonzalo said the virus hasn’t affected his business yet. Much of his work is outside and isolated from a lot of human contacts.
Roblero says, so far, he has been able to get the supplies he needs. He has three employees and hasn’t addressed the situation directly with them but says if one were to show up with signs of illness, he would send them home until they are healthy again.
No clients have canceled jobs. Roblero says he watches the news every morning and evening and gets his information about the virus that way.
His wife, Michelle, works for the Springfield Montessori School, and his son, Arian, 15, attends Thurston High School, so his entire family is affected by the pandemic.
Roblero said that while he isn’t overly worried about his family’s individual well-being, he is concerned and paying attention to developments.
– Joey Blum

Nick Hammond, personal trainer
Nick the Trainer Dude in Springfield is still seeing clients one-to-one. Some older clients have cancelled for health concerns and some younger ones from lost income due to the virus.
His greatest concern is from lost income, saying there is a small cushion. He has prepaid rent on the gym and his home but is concerned that if the losses continue beyond two months things would “get serious.”
“What are you going to do? We’re all in it together,” he said.
The larger gyms are closing for the next 30 days so he is letting some of his friends have keys to his gym to work out when the gym is empty.
“I understand the situation and if I could close the gym and stay home I would.”
He planned to take part in an important bodybuilding show next month. It was canceled and Nick took it in stride. “I’m more concerned for their loss of revenue, I can do other shows in the future.”
Nick and his family live up the McKenzie River and he said they have enough food to ride it out for a while. “If we have to we’ll take the camper up into the National Forest and be fine,” he said.

Erica Mitchell and Ronnie Ellis, Humble Bee Honey and Bear Mountain Honey
They are a beekeeping and honey-producing business with more than a thousand beehives scattered in the lower Willamette Valley.
They have two children, Isis, 6, and Sophia, 4.
”We feel lucky that, for the most part, our business is unaffected, except for the recent inability to get glass jars for packing large orders of honey,” Mitchell siad. When the Coronavirus forced a massive shutdown of commerce in China, glass became scarcer, but Ellis said, ”that’s starting to ease as people in China are returning to work and glass is shipping again.”
Erica said, ”We’re still delivering honey to our store accounts and fortunately demand has been strong because honey is a provision customers stock during a panic.”
Erica said beekeeping makes it relatively easy to practice effective social distancing. They also have a small employee pool, which includes a childcare worker in her 30s, who feels she is in good health and comfortable continuing her work.
They advised all to stay home if they are uncomfortable or showing any signs of illness.
A change they have made is to opt-out of their normal participation at the Eugene Farmers Market for the time being.
Erica is a Farmers Market board member and attended and took part in a board meeting March 12 to discuss the Coronavirus. The board decided to keep the market open, which follows a similar decision by the Portland Farmers Market. The discussion revolved around the age of the vendors’ customers.
Erica said Humble Bee’s customers are older and more at risk, and that it’s hard to guarantee a sanitary environment at an open-air Famers Market.
Erica and Ronnie get most of their Coronavirus information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Johns Hopkins University websites.
Erica said that the seriousness of the situation and the need to take strong action was informed by reading a Facebook post by a trusted former doctor of Ronnie’s, Pilar Bradshaw, who advised people to take preventive action.
Seeing that advice expressed by a trusted source reinforced her belief that they must act decisively.
When the couple’s 6-year-old daughter, Isis, felt sick this week, they kept her home from school.
”With spring break coming and the statewide school closure ordered by Gov. Brown, it made sense to keep her at home,” Erica said, ”and we’re doing a lot of hand washing.”
– Joey Blum



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