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New businesses try to make it work during the pandemic

Published: Feb. 17, 2021 at 8:47 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Many restaurants and bars have struggled to make it through the pandemic and a number have been forced to close. But some new businesses and their owners have tried to make it work despite the challenges.

“It’s been a learning process, but all together we are very happy with the result,” said Laura Vilalta, the owner of Black Cap Coffee and Beer.

The business completed renovations and was able to reopen its Stowe location back in early January. At the same time, they were getting ready to open in Burlington.

“They are welcoming us with open arms and we are very appreciative of it,” said Vilalta.

They’ve been open for nine days in the Queen City and while it’s too soon to tell how successful they will be in their new spot, Vilalta says they are just excited to be in such an iconic spot.

“I always remember when my sister-in-law came to visit a while ago and I took her to Burlington and drove and walked around with her and she said, ‘So this is how an American city looks like, a small city in America, typically?’ And I said, ‘No way!’ This is the most, one of the most beautiful small American cities you can find,” said Vilalta.

And while Vilalta says initial business for the new store on the block has been good, she knows opening now will present challenges, but she says it can only go up from here.

“I am a patient business person. I don’t expect profits the day after,” said Vilalta.

But down at the bottom of Church Street is another business that isn’t sure how long patience can last.

“This was supposed to be a rebranding of the spot, trying to create a new hot dance club for Burlington,” said Roguen Carlson, the general manager of Einstein’s Tap House.

After a roughly six-month remodel, a soft opening in February 2020 for Einstein’s Tap House had a hard stop after the COVID-19 shutdown. Carlson says they have attempted to reopen with restrictions twice. While they could do it, the results weren’t what they were looking for.

“I think the hardest part being the new business around was having that clientele and that reputation, and no one really knew about us,” said Carlson.

He says just before they were forced to close their doors because of COVID, they were able to entertain 150 people. Now, they are trapped in time and waiting for tapping feet. They have plans to wait it out while they can. Carlson says they hope their next open will be a permanent one.

“We aim to make it as safe and clean and sanitary as possible so that people can come here and have a good experience without worrying about getting sick,” said Carlson.

He says they have no timeline on reopening, but they hope once bars are able to stay open past 10 p.m., that will be a good sign for them.

They also have staffers who have stuck with them that they are ready to welcome back once they feel ready to open.

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