Indianapolis businesses still launching amid coronavirus pandemic

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INDIANAPOLIS — It’s always tough opening a business, but during a pandemic that tall task brings its own challenges.

“There’s definitely some wind at your back that you’re not gonna see,” explains Mark Weghorst who just opened a second Slapfish Seafood location on Massachusetts Avenue three days ago. “The rules have changed kind of daily, and adjusted. You definitely have to be on your toes.”

Weghorst’s advice for new business owners is to remain flexible and to look for hidden opportunities. He had to bring dining chairs from another location to the Mass Ave spot because his chairs were back-ordered for months. The restaurant is also struggling to find to-go boxes.

“Ive seen a lot of opportunities that weren’t there, and anyone who is in the restaurant business, or any business, knows finding good help is the biggest struggle,” details Weghorst who has had luck finding employees with so many people in the restaurant and tourism industry out of work.

Now three days in, Weghorst says the opening has been doing well. It’s a relief considering when they began moving into the new location Mass Ave restaurants were shut down to in-house dining.

“It was a ghost town. There were no cars anywhere, and they didn’t have the streets blocked off,” laughs Weghorst, “You’d come down here, and it was a little eerie. You’re saying is this gonna work? Is this good?”

“Smallest things make the biggest difference,” explains Jordan Ellis who is the General Manager of the soon-to-open UFC Gym in Whitestown,”We were supposed to open end of April.”

Like Weghorst, Ellis also found major delays in necessities, particularly when it came to construction materials.

“$4 parts end up pushing back our opening by about a month,” says Ellis. “Shipping delays for equipment as far as some simple things pushed us back a couple months with the coronavirus pandemic.”

The Whitestown gym dwarfs their UFC Gym in Noblesville. The location has attracted top level martial arts trainers from around the country, but they have been on hold while the gym faced delays. The pandemic also impacted memberships.

“Going into March we were doing really well, and then once things started shutting down it literally just stopped,” adds Ellis, “Once Governor Eric Holcomb had announced the reopening plan, and the different phases were intact, the memberships starting come back up. Gyms kind of get a bad rap and a negative stigma with this whole situation. We are no less safer than a grocery store or home improvement store. Honestly, it just created this new atmosphere of making sure the gym is clean which is easy because we are brand new. We do medical grade cleanings as well as daily cleanings with the facility the staff. We will have a cleaning schedule including every single employee and myself here.”

The UFC Gym in Whitestown is expected to open in the next two weeks. They are letting people freeze memberships at all of their locations until members feel safe enough to return to the gym.

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