WAUNAKEE (WKOW)-- Road construction is known to cause many things in Wisconsin, growth, frustration and a whole lot of inconvenience, but in Waunakee it has created something many people never expected, a sense of unity.
"Everyone is working together on this. We've put up signs and promotions in order to help everyone out," Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ellen Schaaf says.
Construction began two months ago in downtown Waunakee. The project will rebuild main street and spruce up the aging downtown infrastructure. City officials have been planning the project for years. Business owners have prepared as well, but many never imagined how much the project would affect their way of life.
"It really is just about survival and nothing to do with profit anymore. It's solely just survival," Mojo's Sports Pub owner Roger Endres Jr. says.
Endres has owned Mojo's for eight years and says business has dropped by more than 60%. On a normal weekday in July his staff would serve between 50-75 lunches. During the noon lunch hour on Tuesday only one customer had stopped by for a sandwich and a soda.
"Just last week we had to let go of a couple of people. Normally on a Friday night we'll staff five servers and four kitchen staff. We're down to two servers and two kitchen staff now," Endres says.
Other businesses have fared better thanks to special deals and promotions. Cathy Clemens of Sweet Pea Floral has extended her hours to make things more convenient for customers.
"They all want us to survive the storm. I feel like they're very understanding and they put that extra effort in too, which is nice for us," Clemens says.
Clemens has seen a slight drop in business, but she stays optimistic by looking forward to the finished project and a revitalized downtown.
"Right now it's kind of a pain in the butt, but it's going to be so nice in the end."
That's the hope of chamber officials who have invested thousands of dollars in signs and promotions to keep businesses going until the project is complete. They are working to make sure business owners have the information they need to navigate through this difficult time.
"Yes, sales are down. We still encourage people in the community to come and patronize those businesses. They're still open. We're working to help everybody in the community," Schaaf says.
Construction is scheduled to wrap up by Labor Day. Officials say the project is currently on schedule. The chamber is hosting a handful of events this Summer to bring people downtown. They include a Sidewalk Art Sale, Chalk Walk, and Outdoor Movie Night on August 20th.
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