After heavy snow, SoMa businesses happy to be open

It’s a one-two punch that they weren’t expecting — first the pandemic hit, then some of the worst snow Arkansas has ever seen.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — For small businesses that rely on local customers, this hasn’t been a great week.

“We’ve been shut down five days, today’s our first day to open,” John Brandenberger, owner of Community Bakery on SoMa, said.

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He’s not the only owner just reopening. Many of the local businesses that dot South Main Street in Little Rock are just now able to greet customers again.

“We’ve never had a day in the ten years we’ve been open where we had to close because of the snow,” Jack Sundell, co-owner of The Root Café, said.

Every storm has its silver lining, and this one’s is today. Beautiful blue skies and temperatures central Arkansas hasn’t seen in weeks brought people back to the area.

“The beautiful weather certainly helps,” Sundell said. “But also, you know, the fact that most people have been in their houses for almost a week now, and they’re looking for a way to get out. “

It’s a better outlook than this past week, which brought more hardship than just the snow.

“It’s the imperfect, perfect situation,” Brandenberger said. “This is not what service industry people want, a major hit like this.”

For The Root Café, this week was especially hard.

“We’re looking into business interruption insurance to see if we can file a claim,” Sundell said. “It’s a huge disruption to us as a business, but also to every staff member who isn’t able to work, that hits them as well.”

It’s a one-two punch that they weren’t expecting — first the pandemic hit, then some of the worst snow Arkansas has ever seen.

“With the pandemic, sales are down at The Root about 30 percent,” Sundell said.

“Making sure there’s some financial security, which is really scary,” Brandenberger said. “Especially with COVID and the pandemic.”

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All storms eventually pass, though, and both restaurants are just happy to have the doors open again.

“If this is kind of the end of deep, dark winter,” Sundell said. “And we can start coming out of hibernation, then we’re really ready to see spring.”