Some Montgomery businesses struggle to stay open

Some downtown Montgomery businesses are fighting to stay open (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Published: May. 23, 2022 at 10:51 PM CDT|Updated: May. 24, 2022 at 2:29 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Like many cities in Alabama, Montgomery is seeing several business closings in the wake of the pandemic.

At least three businesses in the downtown area have closed their doors in recent weeks and others are struggling to make ends meet.

The Irish Bred Pub announced it’s closing its doors after 10 years of business. The restaurant did not give an exact reason why, but a note on their front door thanks to the guests and employees that have supported them over the years.

Next door, Mama Goldberg’s Deli confirmed to WSFA that its downtown location is now closed.

Across town, the cocktail bar Lower Lounge has also temporarily closed it’s doors.

Also, Capital City Nutrition is permanently closing Friday. A Facebook post says, “This decision was not made lightly as we have enjoyed our time downtown, but with the recent college graduations of both of our owners, life was pulling us in another direction.”

“It’s a surprise to us all that we got the unfortunate news that a couple of our good restaurants downtown are closing,” said Jonathan Avant, president of Montgomery’s Downtown Business Association.

Avant did not know the exact reason why the establishments closed but pointed to inflation and workforce shortages as a possibility.

“Whether it’s inflation or the cost of products, or whether it’s staffing or cash flow crunch, any issue that they are facing, it’s not just here in Montgomery, it’s across the entire country right now. We just have to do a better job as a community to better support our businesses downtown,” Avant said.

The businesses that are open said it’s because of their loyal customers. They said they are still facing challenges, like getting the supplies they need.

“Most of our items are actually imported so we’re having a hard time getting some of our supplies in,” said Mellissa Smith, owner of Island Delight. “With that comes high shipping costs when it actually comes in. Because of inflation, most of our prices have actually gone up.”

At The BeYoutiful Boutique, owner Keiauna White said COVID-19 is still impacting business, but they have seen a lot of foot traffic.

“People are starting to feel more safe coming into stores, but at the same time for businesses behind the scenes it’s what’s really causing the issues, so shipping and being able to source products is a problem for most of us,” White said.

Avant said they have been blessed to have only a handful of establishments close.

“You can really count on one hand, maybe, about all of them that have closed in the last year or two,” Avant said.

The Downtown Business Association encourages the community to support those who still have their doors open.

“You’ll see the businesses that have creatively came up with ways to overcome the obstacles but not only that, leverage this time of opportunity to grow their business,” Avant said.

WSFA 12 News reached out to Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed about the recent closures.

Reed said the city is doing everything it can to help the city grow and support local businesses. Reed pointed to pandemic-era loans they were able to provide businesses. He said re-implementing those loans in the post-pandemic era is not out of question.

“We want to make this a city as viable as we can for all small businesses and certainly those in the service industry are a big part of that,” Reed said.

Reed said the city needs to re-imagine retail overall and understand that the pandemic really brought on a lot of changes that will impact how Montgomery does business moving forward.

“There are a lot of things that we have in the works that we believe will not only make the city a better place for small businesses, but that will make the environment for those small businesses much friendlier for them to grow and to prosper,” Reed said.

There are a number of new businesses that have opened in downtown Montgomery, including Truth Lounge and the much-anticipated Italian restaurant “Ravello.”

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