MARION — Josh Immerfall, co-owner of the Goldfinch Tap & Eatery in Marion, is looking forward to welcoming back patrons this summer as coronavirus restrictions lift.
Immerfall anticipates being able to open the restaurant, to 50 percent capacity, by the end of the month, “with safety in mind,” he said.
Immerfall, along with other business owners in Marion, is working with the Marion Chamber of Commerce and the Marion Public Library to explore ways they can improve customer confidence as they begin the return to more normal operations after being closed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Madeline Jarvis, adult and information services manager with the Marion Public Library, is working with the chamber to identify recovery strategies for businesses.
One thing she is exploring is a “generational split” between Gen X and Millennials. Older people, she has found, are more comfortable with dining in than younger generations.
“How can we help businesses pivot and continue to grow in this age of carryout?” she said. “What’s that personal touch that allows businesses to really shine?” in the virtual realm?
Jill Ackerman, president of the Marion Chamber of Commerce, said while the partnership is about helping businesses apply for grants and reopen with public safety measures in place, it’s also about how the public will feel walking into a business.
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“The softer side of this is people’s feelings,” Ackerman said. “Do they feel the environments they’re going into are safe? How do they feel when they see people in masks?”
Marion Public Library Director Hollie Trenary said the library hopes to begin delivering books to senior living facilities and day-care centers.
“Even though we’ll not be able to open the doors, we’ll still be able to get the materials out, and we’re looking for ways we can open parts of the facility to give people access to the internet,” she said.
The library has boosted its Wi-Fi into the parking lot since the start of the coronavirus, but Trenary hopes it can set up a couple of computers for people to use inside the building, disinfecting between each use.
Library staffers also plan to wipe down and disinfect each book that is returned to the library.
Another library priority is to provide virtual summer learning opportunities for K-12 students.
Jarvis said STEAM camps the library typically offers — in science, technology, engineering, arts and math — will be offered online. Staffers are working on “grab-and-go” kits for students to participate from their home.
“We can’t assume everyone has construction paper and crayons,” she said.
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