Local business restrictions impact NCHS students


Photo Courtesy of: Fiesta Ranchera Facebook Page

The Fiesta Ranchera location on College Ave. is one of the Fiesta locations run by the Canchola family.

With Illinois reverting to Phase 3 of the ‘Restore Illinois Resurgence Mitigation Plan’ on Friday, Nov. 20 for the unforeseeable future, small businesses face another round of mitigation requirements.

The requirements, coming as a new wave of COVID-19 surged statewide, “aims to limit gatherings and encourages people to stay home to the greatest extent possible, while permitting some industries to remain open at significantly reduced capacities with proper safety measures in place.”

Among those impacted by Governor J.B. Pritzker’s announcement capping retail and personal care businesses to 25% of their capacity and banning indoor food service are the children of small business owners — seniors Aditi Sharma and Maria “Emi” Canchola, and junior Ivy Goekner.

In Illinois, where the unemployment rate has risen to 10.2% during the pandemic, local businesses like Anu’s Beauty have seen the negative effects of the pandemic.

Aditi Sharma, social media coordinator at her mother’s beauty salon, said, “Before the pandemic,” her mom “would be pretty booked.”

Anu’s Beauty usually had about 10 clients a day, with more on the weekend, but business has dropped approximately 50% since last March.

Aditi Sharma’s mom limits her services to 5-6 customers a day, and “she’s not taking on as many new clients,” Aditi said.

But businesses like Ivy Lane Bakery and Fiesta Ranchera have not been losing customers during the pandemic.

Emi Canchola, an employee at her family’s restaurant, said, “Fiesta [Ranchera] is hiring right now. Because, while we’ve added some staff members, having even more would be nice.”

Ivy Lane Bakery, too, has taken on more workers due to the increased community support.

“Customers have been so supportive,” Ivy Goeckner, daughter of Ivy Lane Bakery’s owners, said. “We have our regular customers and then we have a whole new base of customers that have been coming in.”

Ivy Goeckner working behind the display counter at her family’s downtown Bloomington bakery. (Photo Courtesy of: Ivy Lane Bakery Facebook Page)

When Illinois launched emergency loans and grants for small businesses, Ivy Lane Bakery was qualified to receive assistance.

By keeping their “employees employed,” Goekner said, the business was able to qualify for a grant for “whatever we paid in taxes in the year before.”

Ivy Lane Bakery used the money to buy the new system to keep up with the increase in orders, Goeckner said.

While some businesses have had economic success, owning a small business during a pandemic can take a toll on families, especially emotionally.

“There’s definitely been our highest highs and our lowest lows during [the pandemic] because it’s just been so hard but it’s also been so great because of all the people who have supported us,” Goeckner said.

Beyond just community support, support from within the family has helped these businesses weather the strain of the restrictions.

Aditi knows the pandemic impacts her mom more than it impacts her. “To just help ease that load off of her, I’ll do anything that I can,” Aditi said.

For the Cancholas, the pandemic’s onset was an emotional one, after the death of a family member. “My dad’s mom had actually passed away the first week of the pandemic,” Canchola said. “My dad, who’s the owner, and my sister, who’s the manager, weren’t there,” forcing Canchola and her older brother to work out the issues in a new, take-out only world.

“It was really hectic,” Canchola said.

Despite the chaos, Fiesta Ranchera has seen the community take the precautions seriously, from people eating at their outdoor accommodations armed with blankets and others who remind each other to wear masks in the presence of staff.

Fiesta Ranchera erected an open air tent in their College Ave. location to allow outdoor dining in May. (Photo Courtesy of: Fiesta Ranchera Facebook Page)

“I’m glad that we’re able to take such precautions and continue running,” Canchola said. “But I’m just worried that other businesses aren’t being careful. I just don’t understand why people can’t try their best to be considerate of the fact that there’s a virus.”

Caring about others, especially by taking precautions seriously, is something that also stuck out to Goeckner.

“Truly you need to care about other people,” Goeckner said.