The coronavirus pandemic brought up many issues and concerns for the small businesses and restaurants on Farnsworth Avenue in Bordentown City.
Restaurant owners and entrepreneurs were tasked with trying to find innovative ways to make money and keep their respective stores up and running.
The Downtown Bordentown Association (DBA) and the Bordentown City Commissioners have also worked together to set up activities and events that meet the COVID-19 safety guidelines in the executive order sent down by Gov. Phil Murphy to help restaurants and small businesses.
With summer events like the Bordentown Car Show and the Bordentown City Street Fair cancelled, the DBA and Bordentown City Mayor James Lynch teamed up to create an event called Restaurant Weekend to bring more business to the downtown area.
The two-day event was held on a weekend in both July and August and saw many people from the Bordentown community come out to support their local restaurants and small businesses.
The success of the event has sprung the DBA and the city to run a special September Restaurant Weekend edition.
Downtown Bordentown Association President C.J. Mugavero announced through the organization’s Facebook page on Aug. 25 that the event will take place from Sept 11-12.
“Everyone has been thankful and thrilled with how the event has done,” Mugavero said. “We’ve had great weather, which has helped us a lot. People have been enjoying themselves and sending in lovely comments. We’re accomplishing what other towns in the state are doing as well.”
According to Lynch, restaurants and small businesses have profited from the volume of people coming through during both weekends.
“It’s been a big shot in the arm to their businesses,” Lynch stated. “It’s been very successful.”
A section of the downtown area from Crosswick Street to either West Park Avenue or all the way down to Veterans Way will be taped off for the event in September to allow restaurants to expand outdoor dining into the street to serve more patrons.
The event will run from 3-11 p.m. and will have live entertainment each night.
The Rev. Matt Tucker of Christ Church Parish will hold a memorial service to mark the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, on the corner of Boyds Pharmacy at 7 p.m. Sept. 11.
Mugavero stated in her announcement that people should wear a mask when shopping or dining.
The owner of The Artful Deposit said residents and patrons have been great the first two weekends of the event, following all safety guidelines and making the event as enjoyable as can be.
“We try to control the event as much as possible,” Mugavero said. “We’re evolving as we go and tweaking things each time. We’re thankful that we have a lot of loyal patrons and residents that are coming out to support our local businesses. It’s been a nice experience.”
Lynch has also been very happy with the support residents have shown the business district during the pandemic.
The No. 1 goal for the mayor the last six months has been trying to do whatever he could to help the restaurants and small businesses survive and keep the business district afloat.
Lynch said he understands how important the downtown area is to the city and why everyone in the community needs to support these small businesses and restaurants as much as they can.
“We need the business district,” Lynch said. “It’s very important to the city. We’ve aimed to protect these businesses and I think we have done a good job of that the past six months.”
This spring, Lynch and the rest of the Bordentown City Board of Commissioners created the Bordentown City Small Business Grant to keep businesses afloat during the pandemic. Small businesses and restaurants were able to receive a total of $5,163 from the grant program.
Lynch believes by November that restaurants will at least be able to provide indoor dining to patrons at 25% capacity.
For October, Mugavero said the DBA is in the process of creating an event to replace the Bordentown Cranberry Festival that was cancelled earlier this month.
The event will take place the weekend of Oct 3-4 and will be similar to the Restaurant Weekend events, Mugavero said.
In the midst of all the chaos the pandemic has brought to the town, Mugavero has been very impressed with how small businesses and restaurants have been thriving during the pandemic.
She believes the local businesses have adapted well to services needed to be used during the pandemic and that she is proud of what their one-square mile area has been able to accomplish so far.
“Hats off to the restaurant owners and the entrepreneurs. They have made lemonade out of lemons,” Mugavero said. “Being able to thrive during this time will give us the experience that we can use for the rest of our lives.”