Small Businesses in the Midst of a Pandemic

How a local pizzeria is thriving in the unpredictable time of the Corona-virus


Caley Monnier, Staff Writer

The Coronavirus has been a serious challenge for all of us. We have had to learn to adapt and overcome in the midst of a pandemic, our lives changing in ways we never would’ve expected. 

Trying to stay safe and live a normal life has been a challenge for us even as individuals. What about people with way more on their plate? Businesses have been impacted the most by this pandemic, especially small businesses. Trying to stay afloat in this time has been a challenge for small businesses owners. According to Yelp’s Economic Impact Report, 60% of small business Corona-virus closures are permanent shutdowns, with food businesses being impacted the heaviest. 

Shawn Malone is the owner of Brooklyn Pizza Company, a popular pizzeria in Seymour, well-known for being very involved with the local community. Brooklyn Pizza has been closed for dine-in since mid-March, a few days ahead of the governor mandating it, making them the first restaurant in Jackson County to close their doors to the public.

“We wanted to go ahead and set the precedent,” Shawn said. “That’s really what we should be doing.”

With this unpredictable, scary situation in the world right now, businesses have never experienced anything like this before. There are many new struggles that have been introduced in this time, and when asked if he’s learned anything from these new challenges Shawn wasn’t sure how to respond saying, “I don’t want to say I haven’t learned anything, but I’m just not for sure what I’ve learned. It still feels really early in this, and so right now they just kind of feel like struggles.”

Even through this time of uncertainty and these unexpected challenges, one thing small businesses can be grateful for in this time is their communities. This is no different for Brooklyn Pizza. 

“I’d like to say I was surprised by the support shown by our community, but I’m kind of not. I am, because while they really came out in the beginning and we had great sales, but I had kind of always known that about our town. That’s why I love being invested in this town because the people have such big hearts, you know.”

This community support could also be seen with NoFest, the small celebration hosted by Brooklyn Pizza in early October. It included a few fan favorite vendors who normally took part in the huge Oktoberfest. Sati Babi and Junkyard BBQ were among the vendors that could be found at NoFest. Tickets were limited to 150 per night for social distancing.

“I saw that the Oktoberfest was not able to host their annual (festival), and I know it’s a big deal, and I know the work involved in putting it together. I know that they’re bound to a lot of restrictions, rules, and even contracts with vendors. We just had two food vendors, ourselves, and then about 20 craft booths out back. We had three days of live music with social distancing and limited ticket sales for those events. That way, we could all still do a little something and then we could still help produce some revenue that we just weren’t really seeing.¨

Nofest was quite successful, being held at a time where COVID cases were declining and people were hopeful for the future. Now, as cases are being seen to increase, Shawn and other small business owners are fearful for a repeat of earlier events at the beginning of the pandemic.

“It has always been more important to try and keep the doors open, keep our employees on a paycheck, and to keep ourselves safe. So far we’ve been able to do that, you know,” he says, knocking on the wooden table we’re sitting at, “but it’s everywhere. It’s all around us. So to think that it’s not is false thinking. I don’t know what the new norm is.”

While things aren’t looking up in terms of the pandemic, and they might not for a while, we must remember that we are all in this together. Shawn put it this way, “I would just say to keep doing the right thing. Stay vigilant and stay masked up. Stay kind, you know, that’s kind of the main thing.”

Brooklyn Pizza will be celebrating their 15th year of business in 2021. They are open for carry-out and delivery 6 days of the week, being closed on Mondays. Remember to support your local small businesses throughout this pandemic if you can. They need it the most.