COVID-19 pandemic, slow economic stimulus rollout given as reasons
by Olivia Murray
Another downtown Morgantown business has closed, but both owner and patrons are hopeful it won’t be permanent.
Gary Tannenbaum, owner of The Blue Moose Café, took to social media Tuesday evening to deliver the news to Morgantown residents and loyal customers of the establishment.
Tannenbaum said the COVID-19 pandemic was the reason behind the business’s closure, though he assured the public no one in the shop was sick or had tested positive for the virus. The pandemic hadn’t affected Tannenbaum’s health or that of his staff; it had simply forced Tannenbaum to realize that running his business in a pandemic was not feasible.
“I just can’t sustain business without customers coming in … so we are shuttered [sic] down … for now,” Tannenbaum said in his Facebook post.
Tannenbaum said he “took advantage” of a Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program (SBA PPP) loan in May 2020 as well as the WV CARES Act grant in August to try to maintain his business. Tannenbaum has been waiting to receive the newest economic stimulus, but hasn’t yet gotten it.
According to the post, Tannenbaum is hopeful that once he receives the second stimulus check, he will be able to reopen the shop and “try again.”
“This pandemic is just horrible on so many levels … it’s like a nightmare that you’re trying to wake up from,” Tannenbaum said.
The post concluded with Tannenbaum urging readers to stay safe but also to do their best to support small businesses, which are “barely squeaking by.”
The Blue Moose Café has been open for 27 years. Many customers expressed devastation on learning of the closure.
Cydney DeBastiani, Jillian Kelly and Amy Metheny were among many who lamented the temporary loss of the café.
“I find it absolutely devastating — The Blue Moose Café is a staple to downtown Morgantown and so many businesses are struggling to keep their doors opened. My partner and I currently have our artwork displayed in the Blue Moose,” DeBastiani said.
Kelly, owner and operator of Retrotique in downtown Morgantown, said she understands Tannenbaum’s struggle.
“As a fellow business owner downtown and one of the Blue Moose’s neighbors for over 7 years, I’m absolutely heartbroken but completely understand Gary’s decision to temporarily close. He did everything he could to survive these horrible times. I’ve had to make the same hard decision but I won’t lose hope that I’ll reopen in the future along with the best coffee shop in town, Blue Moose Café,” Kelly said.
“Blue Moose has been my favorite local coffee shop since I moved here eight years ago. I haven’t gone much since I moved out of South Park, but during the pandemic I’ve made a point to try to go when I can to support them. They honestly have the best coffee in town and I’ve always felt welcome and comfortable there. It’s heartbreaking to think another local business could be shutting down. I wholeheartedly hope Blue Moose can hang in there,” said Metheny.
Tannenbaum was grateful for those who have loved and supported Blue Moose Café during its nearly three decades in operation, and to the patrons who continued to visit to support the café during the pandemic.