The North Bend Eagle


North Bend Locker
Stuart Hircock has been running the North Bend Locker since early June after taking over Bob's Custom Meats. He completly remodeled his front room in one weekend. Arlie's, Gambino's, Tiger Pin and the Corner Cafe also make major renovations.

Businesses productive with quarantine downtime

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 9/9/20

COVID-19 and the regulations put in place to slow its spread changed – and in some cases stopped – the way local businesses operated.

But while doors were shut and customers were few, several North Bend businesses used their newfound time and space to do some remodeling. Now that business is nearly back to normal, customers are getting the chance to see the new looks created behind closed doors.

The Corner Café was limited to carryout only starting in mid-March. Owners Ginette and Rick Renard took the opportunity to tear up some old carpet and lay new vinyl flooring, doing the work themselves. They also took out some tables.

“Everyone tells me they really like it,” Ginette said. “We haven’t needed extra tables yet, so I’m going to keep it like this until we start really needing extra.”

Ginette said business has been getting better.

Tiger PinConnor Norton checks in shoes at the newly built counter. Other shuffling and painting was done while the bowling alley was closed to bowlers.

“We’re probably 50 to 60 percent still,” she said. “The weekends are definitely getting better. Our weekday guys are great. I know. They know. They’ve really supported us this whole time. And now our weekends are starting to come back.”

The drop in business caused the Corner to halt breakfast service. It now opens at 10 a.m. Tuesday to Friday, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekends. They have recently started to close on Mondays.

They had a few customers who were regular breakfast people, but not enough to warrant opening earlier.

“I would use that morning time to bake, get the salad bar ready, to get things ready for lunch,” Ginette said. “Now we can’t have the buffet, so I don’t need to be here that early.”

Ginette said they have applied for the government Payment Protection Plan, and they have cut their hours down which has helped some

“We’re basically going to coast through the end of the year,” Ginette said. “I don’t see much changing till next spring. I think we’re doing better than other places, towns, cities are.”

Just down the block from the Corner Cafe, Stuart Hircock has been running the North Bend Locker since early June. And we do mean running.

Hircock completely renovated the front room of the business in a long weekend, starting after close on Saturday and finishing at 10 p.m. Sunday. What was a space crammed with tools and a desk now feels much roomier and more rustic.

“We repurposed all the material,” Hircock said. We tore down an old chicken coop. That is where the tin and old barnwood came from.”

Since taking over Bob’s Custom Meats this summer, the North Bend Locker has been plenty busy.

“The North Bend community has been great,” Hircock said. “They’ve been extremely welcoming. With COVID we haven’t seen a slowdown yet.”

In fact, the pandemic has probably contributed to the Locker being busier than ever with COVID-19 striking large meat packing plants hard.

“Now people are looking at other options,” Hircock said. “They have the option of being able to put a quarter or half beef in their freezer and have a sustainable source of protein for six months to a year, depending on family size.”

The limited meat choices in grocery stores are bringing more people through the doors of North Bend Locker.

“We’ve seen a resurgence of people going back to their rural butcher and looking for locally sourced meat,” Hircock said.

His newly refurbished front room is ready to welcome them with the addition of some new display cases.
Gambino’s Pizza also revamped its dining room during COVID down time, but first Lori Bunn had to get an OK from Gambino’s corporate before she could change anything.



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