News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Businesses launch during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has closed thousands of businesses across the country, but for Deb Yannariello, co-owner of Sisters Depot Kitchen & Cocktail Bar, it seemed a good time to start a new one.

“We bought the building in September and we opened mid-December,” she told The Nugget last month. “We have no history here at all and I think we’re doing good for January. Everything here is new — including the menu — and we have an outdoor, covered dining area and a heating element, and that definitely helps. On weekends we started doing music with a solo acoustic-guitar singer — a one man show — and people are enjoying it.”

Americans are starting new businesses at the fastest rate in more than a decade, according to government data, seizing new opportunities after the pandemic shut down and reshaped the economy.

Hair stylist and artist Casey Gardner, owner of Bloom Studio, has been building clientele after opening in June 2020.

“I’ve had an ad running in The Nugget every couple of weeks and have gotten a lot of feedback from that,” Gardner said.

“I lived in Sisters for 12 years and people know me. Although I moved to Salem, I’m back, and it’s been great — plus I get to display my art right in the salon. It’s been word of mouth. A lot of clients have been sent my way because some other places have closed because of COVID-19. I’ve kind of filtered right back into the Sisters community and everybody’s been so welcoming. I sanitize the station after each person leaves and we wear masks and I try to have only one person in here at a time.”

For some during this pandemic time, running a small business has been a make-it-up-as-they-go-along trial. Cibelli’s Pizza opened in December and manager Sydney Magee said, “We never closed, we just transitioned from the dine in to takeout.”

More people seem to be out shopping local and Sisters seems to be having an influx of tourists this winter.

Tony Atkinson, owner of Candy Corral, who also opened during the pandemic, told The Nugget, “We’ve been busy, and I see a lot of people coming in from Portland for a day trip just to get away.”

He added, “I’ve been really thrilled about the way it’s been going for my candy store. No complaints. As far as the startup and the feedback from the community, it’s been a real positive experience for me. I’ve lived in Bend for 37 years and coming out to Sisters has made me fall in love with the community. After being in the roofing business for 25 years this is my dream come to fruition. It’s been awesome. I’m looking forward to putting 2020 behind us. And moving forward, I’m hoping for the Sisters Rodeo and Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show to happen this year.”

Starting a business during a pandemic might not seem like an ideal endeavor, but it actually could be a good entrepreneurial decision. While there are many COVID-inspired business ideas sprouting in the business world today, there are many ways “traditional” businesses are adapting during COVID-19.

With fewer people dining out and more eating at home during the pandemic, there’s also been a jump in consumers having meals delivered.

Martolli’s Authentic Hand Tossed Pizza has been doing just that since Jennifer and Kelly Brock took the reins as new owners during 2020.

“We’ve been doing really good, with the added delivery besides takeout,” said manager Sidney Bloch.


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