New businesses get creative during COVID-19 pandemic to stay open

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Despite the pandemic, Little Rock has seen multiple new franchises open as the governor eases restrictions, but not without some challenges.

New hotels like Aloft Hotel just now opening their doors instead of their original date in March. Also, instead of a big grand opening party, it’s a soft small opening, but this isn’t the only member of the hospitality industry changing its plans because of COVID-19.

“We’ve opened a lot of other hotels, but definitely not in a pandemic,” said Courtney Probst from Aloft Hotel.

A quiet hotel lobby seems to be a sign of the times.

“Us not opening in March when we were originally supposed to… we lost out on a couple of months of revenue for the hotel and the bar,” said Courtney.

But for this brand new hotel, it’s not what they planned for when they broke ground in 2019. Since the pandemic hit they have cut jobs and reduced overhead, but have also gotten creative to make sure it can keep its doors open.

“One thing we have really done is to try to partner with our local community. We have our bar open, we have our pool open,” said Courtney.

Another business finally up and rolling… Rock N’ Roll Sushi in Central Arkansas.

“It’s still a challenge with it being at 33% in Phase One you know trying to become profitable,” said Jason Ally the owner of Rock N’ Roll Sushi.

Jason Ally tells us he only hired the amount of staff needed to save money and had to cut costs where he can since his grand opening was a no-go due to COVID-19, but there is a silver lining.

“It’s allowed us to get our feet underneath us and not be swamped at the beginning,” said Jason.

But both of those new spots say they are ready for the hustle and bustle that brought them to Little Rock.

“The more money that the hotel ends up making, we are then able to turn around and bring it back to the community,” said Courtney.

Both spots say they are depending on locals right now and hope in Phase Two business will pick back up.

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