BOISE — The historic Idanha building in downtown Boise used to be home to five local businesses. Now, there are only three.
Both Neo Classic Tattoo and the Maven boutique closed their doors during the shutdown in order to slow the spread of COVID-19, but the other three businesses in the building are holding on with changes to their business model.
None of the four businesses the Idaho Press interviewed said there was any rental assistance or delays from Parklane Property Management. The company could not be reached for comment.
Justin Giron, the former owner of Neo Classic Tattoo, said he had to close down his shop on March 27 due to the state’s order and was unable to keep up with the bills while he could not have any customers. He only had the business for a year and was building his customer base, but then the shutdown without any assistance took the wind out of his sails.
“I was a brand new business owner and I was excited to further my career,” Giron, 26, said. ”Things were going great. Business started off slow as per usual, but with the amazing support from our clients and friends we were able to start off well and we were making it. But as soon as the pandemic hit, I didn’t think it would hit that hard.”
He applied for funding twice from the U.S. Small Business Administration to stay open, but he was denied because funding ran out and then again because he never heard back from his bank about the loan. Giron also applied for unemployment from the state of Idaho, but never received benefits.
“They said, ‘There’s going to be help, there’s going to be help,’ but unfortunately I wasn’t able to get it,” he said. “I tried to stay open as long as I could to give our banking institution time to get back to me about the loan. Even with applying for these government assistant programs, unfortunately getting the assistance isn’t a sure thing.”
Maven is listed as “permanently closed” on Instagram; owners could not be reached for comment. However, Mullet Proof Hair Co., which used to operate in Maven's space as a separate business, did not close due to COVID-19 and has taken over the lease.
10th Street Station, a popular bar in the basement of the building, was able to weather the shutdown because of owner Dan Krejci’s personal savings. The bar reopened June 15 with new seating arrangements to capacity at 50%, and customers aren't allowed to approach the bar top.
The reduced seating is going to take a big bite out of Krejci’s revenue, but he said he can weather the losses for a year as long as nothing major breaks down and needs replacement.
“I’ve been doing some fictitious number crunching, because even though we have 40 chairs there’s no way we’re going to get 40 people in there at one time,” he said. “I tried to figure it out, and basically I’m going to lose anywhere from $2,500 to $4,000 a month at least for a couple of months.”
Guru Donuts and Bombay Grill, the other two businesses in the Idanha, have been making it by. Guru survived on delivery orders, and only recently welcomed back walk-in customers.
Soon after the pandemic hit, Guru started delivering donuts even as ingredients for baking grew scarce due to high demand. Because of the popularity, they actually had to hire someone.
“We had to really staff up for it, and the staff had to completely adjust,” Krystle McLaughlin, Guru Donuts owner, said. “We ended up hiring one person during that time, and we were joking about how we have to train her on everything because we weren’t serving customers when she started.”
Bombay Grill stayed open with to-go orders and curbside pickup, but business was slow. Things are now starting to pick up again now that the restaurant is open for 50% capacity for dine-in, but it is still an uphill climb back to where they started before the pandemic.
Owner Robin Singh received a Paycheck Protection Program loan from the CARES Act to help cover payroll for the small number of employees. Singh said the business was mostly able to survive because it is run by a family and had few outside workers to pay.
“With the to-go (orders) it was pretty much breaking even,” Singh said. “The overflow wasn’t a lot, but it was barely able to keep us open, but the government loan definitely helped us out with that.”