Lack of students affects local businesses

Businesses around Park adapt to survive


Lilly Strathman

Senior Claire Diamon-Wheeler organizes menus at The Block Jan. 15. The Block is now open for indoor dining, and takeout.

Sam Swisher

Looking back on a pandemic that has lasted several months, The Block manager Mary Rohr said innovating has been essential to bringing in business that has been lost.


“The biggest struggle has been trying to stay afloat. There are so many restaurants that have closed down because of the pandemic,” Rohr said. “Coming up with new and creative ways to get people either in the building or order from us has been key.” 


Senior Johnny Falzone said before the pandemic he he frequently visited restaurants around Park


“I went to local restaurants two to three times a week before the pandemic,” Falzone said. “They provided me with really good food, as well as a fun place to hang out with friends.”


Mexico City Cafe owner Julio Margalli said he didn’t always have a lot of students but the loss of student business is impacting him.


“When students were here before the pandemic, I didn’t have very many but I did have some through the lunch hour,” Margalli said. “There were times when there were a lot of students sitting here and eating, and that’s impacted my business.”


Rohr said she’s seen a drop in the number of students coming since students went back to virtual learning.


“There are still students that will come, more so in the evenings and weekends. But right now during the week, I’m not seeing as many as we did over the summer,” Rohr said. “The dynamic has definitely changed now that students are back to school online.”


Margalli said the loss of students has forced him to look to other sources for business.


“Since students aren’t here, I have to find ways to recover those numbers,” Margalli said.  “Sometimes I have a really good number of teachers, but other days, those teachers are working from home which makes it even harder.”


Falzone said to keep local businesses in the community people need to support them.


“It’s important to support local businesses because some local restaurants could have the best in town,” Falzone said. “But they might not really be well known, or if a few people go there, then they’re going to have to shut down and you lose that food, which is a shame.” 


Margalli said he’s creating a plan to draw in more students when they return to in-person learning.


“I’ve been planning for when students come back because I want to get more students here as opposed to going to McDonald’s, Margalli said.”