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Local businesses find silver lining to opening a business during the pandemic

Downtown Lafayette seeing growth
Posted at 5:11 PM, Mar 10, 2021

LAFAYETTE — Opening a new business during the pandemic doesn't seem like the best idea, but for two businesses downtown, it seemed like the perfect storm.

Robert Brankline, the Executive Chef at Grocery Tavern and Deli, and his staff decided to kick start their business last year when the pandemic began to set in and many non-essential businesses started to close their doors.

"The whole process of getting things paid for, for the services that we needed slowed down because of all the small business loans that were being produced," says Brankline.

But once they received the money through loans that they applied for, the real progress started to show.

"The offices that helped out with all of the permits were still open and operating," says Brankline. "Then we were able to get workers in here to finish up the building process."

Brankline says they benefited from the shutdown because it gave them extra time to get things together.

"It gave us a little more time to fine tune some of the aesthetics to really make this place look how we wanted it to," says Brankline.

But Brankline wasn't the only one who risked opening a new business amid the pandemic. Beausoleil Book Store opened their doors a year ago and tells us that they were able to quickly adapt to the changes to better accommodate the community.

"We created a system where we could do online and over the phone orders," says Alexis Lemoine, General Manager. "That allowed people to feel comfortable to come in and out, and we had a lot of room in the store for people to not feel so crowded."

Lemoine even says that she saw an increase in sales during the pandemic as people had more time on their hands to read books.

"I saw one girl come in and she picked up at least ten books," says Lemoine. "She said, 'I have all the time in the world', so everyone was just really excited."

Today, both businesses still stand in the heart of downtown. Lemoine and Brankline both agree that while some businesses were destroyed during the pandemic, some actually were able to thrive.

"It's kind of a two-sided coin... some lost and some gained," says Brankline. "And I think it's fair to say that we gained."

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