Downtown Cleveland businesses use grant for repairs and revenue loss; some businesses choosing to stay closed through until after election

Published: Oct. 8, 2020 at 8:57 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - 19 Investigates talked to businesses that received grants to help keep afloat in this troubling time.

However, some concerns are lingering amid both the pandemic and the tense election season.

George Anastasakis says his grandfather started in the hat business downtown nearly 80 years ago.

“We’re in it for the long run, always have been, always will be,” he said.

Anastasakis facetimed us from his Broadview Heights location Thursday, because the downtown store remains closed.

“It’s been difficult, there’s no question about it,” he said.

In March, Anastasakis says the downtown store moved into space at the Arcade. He was open there for just a few days before the pandemic shut down.

Then right after he reopened in May, came the damaging riots.

“That was definitely a one, two punch that was very hard to recover from,” he said.

Mike the Hatter is one of 52 businesses approved to receive relief money from the Downtown Cleveland Alliance.

The shop’s windows are all fixed. Anastasakis says he’s just waiting on some water damage to be resolved at the Arcade location now.

However, Anastasakis says he and other area business owners are not really looking to reopen until after the election anyways.

“Other people have heard the same sentiment with us,” he said.

The tense political climate, he says, is possibly fueling the concern there could be more unrest between now and then.

“I think it’s just prudent to wait through any kind of potentials that might arise and come back stronger, ready for the holidays,” he said.

Wonder Bar on East 4th is open after receiving grant money from the Cleveland Alliance too.

Rich Cicerchi, the bar’s owner, is still grateful for the help.

"It was a big deal, he said. “It showed that the Downtown Cleveland Alliance felt our pain.”

Cicerchi is not personally worried about another round of violence.

“I think we are past that,” he said.

He worries the thought may be affecting customers, though, in addition to their COVID concerns.

Both business owners however, are holding out hope for the future.

“We are in it for the long haul, and we are excited for what it’s going to be,” Anastasakis said.

If you’re interested to see what is and isn’t repaired and back open, our investigative team surveyed the streets of Cleveland and made this interactive map.

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