Businesses preparing for reopening soon

By , Special to the Daily Memphian Updated: April 28, 2020 6:13 AM CT | Published: April 28, 2020 4:00 AM CT

As Shelby County and its municipalities begin moving toward a gradual reopening of businesses, many are already in the process of making changes as they prepare to resume operations. 

The county’s mayors outlined plans for a phased re-opening Monday, April 27, which will be tied to a number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. There is no set date for when non-essential businesses will begin opening their doors to the public.

But, to prepare, some suburban businesses are already planning for operational changes that are sure to be needed. Andy B’s Entertainment & Bowling Center in Bartlett and LivLimitless fitness, just across the city line in Memphis, are among them.

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Andy B’s, at 6276 Stage Road in Bartlett, has been shut down for the past five-plus weeks and is hoping to re-open in the next few weeks. The company furloughed more than 50 employees -- all but two -- when the shutdown went into effect.

“We need everybody when we get back, and I know our staff really wants to get back to work,” general manager Traci Pangonas said. “We’re going to be bombarded. The people who bowl in leagues are just champing at the bit. The minute we can be open, we’re going to be packed because everybody wants something to do.”

“Packed” will not mean what it once did, however, with guidelines that are sure to control crowd sizes. The company will put its own guidelines into effect to protect employees and guests, including limiting how many of the 44 lanes will be used at one time.

“When we reopen, we won’t have people bowling on every single lane. Instead, it will involve every other lane,” Pangonas said. “We know not everyone is going to like it that we’re opening, but we will go by the CDC guidelines and whatever Mayor (Keith) McDonald has to say.”

All employees and patrons will have their temperature checked, at least until new guidelines ease up, and anyone showing a fever will not be allowed to stay.

“It only takes one person to infect everyone else,” Pangonas said. 

All bowling balls will be wiped down after each use, including inside the finger holes, as well as all return ramps and scoring touchscreens.

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Locally, Andy B’s also owns Funquest Bowling in Collierville and Winchester Bowl on S. Mendenhall.

LivLimitless fitness center at 6949 Stage Road is already working to make sure all of its equipment is spaced six feet or more apart. For 10 years, the business was in Bartlett but moved across the street into Memphis last October.

Most of what the the center does involves group sessions. Closed since last month, the business has transitioned into offering live coached online classes through Zoom.

“It’s still a group class. They’re getting the group environment; they’re working out at their house, safe at home,” said LivLimitless owner Justin Emmons, who runs the gym with his wife, Kristal, the director of operations. “For us, it’s always been about what’s the safest and healthiest thing that we can provide for our clientele while still providing them coaching services.”

There are daily sessions at 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Emmons is watching what’s happening in states like Georgia, which reopened gyms last week.

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“There are stipulations in there where you can’t have group classes, so that would be a significant problem for us,” Emmons said. “Our current plan, from what we’ve seen in other states and from talking to other gym owners across the country, is to measure out specific spaces and hold classes to a certain number depending on the guidelines.”

The coaches will be the only people setting up the equipment, and it will be cleaned before and after every class.

Adding to the concern about reopening for Emmons is the fact that he has two at-risk people at home -- his pregnant wife and their son, who has Type I diabetes.

“So once we open back up, she won’t be able to be up here anymore, and I will really have to focus on making sure that I don’t expose myself to anything,” he said.

Emmons pointed out that people who are in better shape who do contract COVID-19 are recovering better and faster than those with a sedentary lifestyle.

“At this point in time, it’s very easy to get unmotivated and frustrated and just go into this hole and sit in your house with bad nutrition and no movement,” he said. “For us, it’s very important to provide an outlet for people to be able to move, even if it is just for an hour at their house every day.”

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Michael Waddell

Michael Waddell is a native Memphian with more than 20 years of professional writing and editorial experience, working most recently with The Daily News and High Ground News.

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