One Wisconsin Bakery Struggles With The Coronavirus Shutdown

Michael Volpe Contributor
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A Wisconsin bakery owner says her business may shortly down shortly, a casualty of the coronavirus countermeasures.

Rosie’s Coffee Bar and Bakery in Madison, Wisconsin celebrated its sixth anniversary in February.

Rosie’s celebrated its sixth anniversary in February.

The bakery has fifteen employees, along with the owner Cosmos “Coz” Whitten-Skaife.

Until recently, times were good, as Rosie’s was the recipient of a local small business award in October 2019.

Now, Whitten-Skaife says her business is on the brink of shutting down, a casualty of measures put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus.

“It’s a ghost town,” she said of the area.

Schools were closed throughout Wisconsin starting on Friday March 13. (RELATED: Coronavirus Shows Why America Needs An Industrial Policy)

Whitten-Skaife said her business relies on foot traffic for approximately two thirds of sales.

“We are one block away from a high school,” she said.

With the closures, that foot traffic has disappeared.

That’s not the only countermeasure which has directly affected Rosie’s.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers also ordered all restaurants to only serve customers for take-out, and he limited gatherings to ten people and less.

That has also hurt Rosie’s catering business.

“I’ve had two weddings cancelled already,” she said, referring to the order limiting gatherings which took effect last week.

Photo via Rosie’s Bakery Facebook

Rosie’s also has tables which seat as many as eighty people, none of which can be used.

Her business has been devastated, she said.

Whereas prior to the measures, Rosie’s did approximately $1,100 in sales on a weekday and as much as $2,000 in sales on the weekends, since Friday sales have averaged just $200 per night.

“People are just not comfortable,” she said, “I think the media has people freaking out.”

She said Rosie’s has been able to count on a few long-term customers.

“The customers that are loyal to us are so loyal,” she said.

One long-term customer recently placed an order for two hundred cookies.

She said the stimulus ideas President Trump has proposed including a tax holiday, cash payments, and small business loans would help. (RELATED: Gov. Andrew Cuomo Rips ‘Arrogant,’ ‘Disrespectful’ New Yorkers Hanging Out In Parks During Coronavirus Outbreak)

Wisconsin has also announced a small business grant program providing grants of up to $20,000 to small businesses like hers.

None of it may be enough; she said unless sales pick up to approximately $600 per day, she may close the bakery as early as at the end of the coming weekend.

In order to achieve that, Whitten-Skaife said she started serving dinner for carry-out starting on Wednesday March 19.

Photo via Rosie’s Bakery Facebook

She said sales looked hopeful, with the dinner rush leading to approximately $500 in sales on Thursday, March 20.

Still, everything remains tenuous.

“I’m doing schedule one day at a time,” she said.

She also said the sudden downturn came as a shock.

On Wednesday March 11, she was interviewed for a local news report; that report didn’t run until the following weekend.

“I looked at myself, and I didn’t see it coming at all,” she said when she watched the segment.