Downtown Oklahoma City Businesses, Non-Profits Prepare To Reopen

Thursday, April 23rd 2020, 2:22 am
By: Ashley Holden


Governor Kevin Stitt announced the preliminary stages of reopening the state, which means businesses are planning to welcome customers back.  

This offers owners a light at the end of the tunnel but reopening will still be a challenge.

Governor Stitt's plan requires owners to follow strict sanitation and social distancing protocol and cites CDC recommendations as guidelines

Many are also preparing to open while in an economic crisis. 

Downtown businesses like Put a Cork In It Winery along the canal have been struggling. 

After closing their tasting room, in the last month, the winery lost 80 percent of their sales. They applied for multiple federal loans but are waiting on congress to approve additional funding. 

"Andrea and I haven't been paid in five weeks," said Put a Cork In It owner John Burwell. "We both applied for unemployment, and we haven't received a nickel from that yet. And we applied for both those loans that I indicated earlier and those are yet to be funded."

The winery is doing deliveries and just started shipping wine nationally.  

Even though they won't be able to open on April 24, the pair has already started looking at ways to provide space to social distance. 

"One thing we are blessed with in enough space to move our tables a pretty good distance from each other," said Burwell. "Unlike restaurants, we don't have to pack the place our to make money."

The OKC Downtown Partnership has also been trying to prepare for the day businesses can reopen.

The nonprofit has been staying in touch with owners and trying to educate and promote businesses. They are also brainstorming based on multiple future scenarios and forming a recovery plan. 

"That involves having A,B and C depending on when the regulations are loosened particularly and how it impacts large crowds of people," said CEO and President of the downtown partnership Jane Jenkins.

She said the mandates will greatly change the non-profit's strategy when it comes to drawing people out to businesses and locations. 

"Part of what we do is activate and get people to gather and enjoy a space, and to utilize the businesses and to be together in a place," said Jenkins. "And that will very much change how we do things."

Right now Oklahomans are waiting and watching to see what happens in the coming weeks. Governor Stitt's plan depends on COVID-19 and any spike could halt the process.

The downtown partnership said in the meantime if any owners need help they want them to reach out. Their contact information is posted on their official website.