Podcast Teaser: A tale of two different pandemic small business stories

By Lindsay Advocate

Pizza played a bigger role during the pandemic than people thought it would.

Though separated by barely a 10-minute walk in Lindsay’s downtown, they’re two businesses with two very different pandemic experiences.

Tony’s Pizza, like many restaurants that were already built on take-out and delivery, managed to not only survive, but thrive.

“There was the uncertainty,” recounts Tony’s co-owner, Greg Andrews, about that time when the world was plunged into a pandemic. “But I have a personal belief that things always work out.”  

It meant, of course, making adjustments – reducing the menu, hours of operation and number of kitchen staff as well as carefully scheduling customer pick-up times, for example. “There were challenges,” Andrews admits in the most recent episode of The Advocate Podcast. “But you have to believe you’ll overcome them.”

That buoyancy and perseverance paid off. Tony’s Pizza, like many take-out restaurants, has endured. The past 15 months has even given its owner a new appreciation for something he humbly admitted in a March 2020 episode was not “an essential service.” But, he says, he now sees how even something as simple as a pizza can brighten a person’s day and help them to meet its new reality challenges. “Perspectives have certainly changed a lot in the last year.”

Wally Nugent, and everyone working in hair care, can be forgiven for not being as upbeat and Andrews. The constant shutdowns of barber shops and hairstyling salons – and the reasons for those provincially-mandated closures – have Nugent frustrated. “There’s no one at the (provincial government) who understands how our business has morphed to accommodate the pandemic,” Nugent tells podcast host, Denis Grignon. “After we came back from the first lockdown,” he continues, “I was, daily, inundated with people thanking me for being safe.”

He goes on to list all the strict safety protocols his small shop on William Street adopted during those brief periods when he was allowed to open – and which serve as a stark contrast to the province allowing big box stores to serve crowds of people throughout the pandemic. Nugent, like all hairstylists, will be part of the province’s Stage 2 opening, scheduled for June 30.  

But the stress of the past 15 months — and what he says was unfair treatment of his industry by government decision-makers — will, no doubt, linger. Still, he stresses the appreciation he has for a clientele whom he’s checked in with regularly throughout the pandemic — and who’ve checked in with him, as well. “If sympathy were bankable,” says Nugent, the emotion in his voice forcing him to pause throughout the podcast interview, “I’d be a billionaire.“ 

Listen to both full interviews with Greg Andrews and Wally Nugent in episode  #33 of The Advocate Podcast, brought to you by Wards Lawyers.

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