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Downtown Kalamazoo sees more new businesses than closures despite pandemic

Downtown Kalamazoo Businesses in Summer
Posted at 5:31 PM, Jul 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-08 20:43:05-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The pandemic has put a financial strain on many businesses, facing them with the decision of closing doors permanently, but it has also brought in opportunity for some new ones.

The Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership said in the last year while 11 businesses have had to close their doors, 16 new ones have opened.

The organization said most of the ones closing are in the restaurant industry.

"The last year, or really, probably almost 18 months now, has been such a challenge for downtown, for our downtown businesses," said Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership President Andrew Haan.

Longtime Kalamazoo restaurant Olde Peninsula Brewpub announced its closure on Thursday.

One of the owners, Steve Blinn, said combined with the labor shortage, rising costs of supplies and labor and a lease that was up, they had to make the tough decision to shut down.

"Pretty much the process—I think a lot of businesses run into is that the cash flow compared to the expenses are not working out. Sorry to say that a couple or a number of our businesses are feeling that effect and are closing their doors because of that. They struggle through the pandemic, and still they're still in the red," said the City of Kalamazoo's Community Investment Manager Antonio Mitchell.

Like Olde Peninsula Brewpub, many other businesses have also experienced those effects.

"Some of those were iconic businesses to downtown. It is certainly sad to see them go, but we think there are ongoing positive signs downtown in the local economy," said Haan.

The positive signs being that the downtown area has actually seen a net gain of businesses.

Cairo's Kitchen, serving Egyptian food, will open in a little over two weeks. One of the owners said they felt the effects of the pandemic but in a positive way.

"The pandemic was crazy. It slowed things down. We were supposed to open last year, but the pandemic served us well because we doubled up in sales actually in 2020, which was not expected at all," said an owner of Cairo's Kitchen Ramy Rezkalla.

"Despite some challenges, we still feel pretty bullish on the future of downtown," said Haan.

Olde Peninsula Brewpub will have one final day open on Saturday, July 24 to celebrate its 25 years. It will be open from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. that day.

On Monday, July 26, Cairo's Kitchen will open its doors to the public. It will be open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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