Downtime fire highlights business-closure impact

Kelly Gulbrandson

Businesses rely on customers in order to stay open, so when they are forced to shut down temporarily, it can have an effect on them.

Christopher Shaffner, manager of Downtime Bar and Grill, said a small kitchen fire Saturday forced them to shut down for an hour and a half to clear out the smoke.

“There was no fire inside the building, just smoke that filled the place,” he said.

The business was between half and three-quarters full at the time and had to clear everyone out, he said.

“We lost what we had and had to start back from zero,” Shaffner said.

Customers closed their bar tabs and some went outside to finish their drinks, while others waited until the bar reopened, Shaffner said.

People want to go into bars where other people already are, he said, so an empty bar will have an effect on business.

He said on a typical weekend night the bar makes $3,000.

Dileep Rao, an entrepreneurship adjunct professor, said the effects of a temporary business closure would depend on the type of business.

If customers are worried about returning to a place with previous problems, he said the business will have to convince the customers the problem is solved.

“The safety factor is one of the key issues,” Rao said.

Computer engineering fifth- year student Aaron Bucher was at Downtime Saturday when it closed. Bucher said he and his friends left for the night, but plan on returning in the future.

Downtime isn’t the only business near campus to have shut down temporarily.

Joe Radaich, owner of The Sportmans Pub, said a storm shut off power during one night this summer.

After remaining open for three hours, the beer began to get warm, so the restaurant closed at 11 p.m., Radaich said. While it was an annoyance for employees, customers were even less understanding.

“Customers want what they want and when they can’t get it, they get crabby and will go somewhere else,” he said.

A fire last year also forced the restaurant to shut down for five days, he said, but insurance covered lost profits.

“We wanted to reopen because we didn’t want customers to get in the habit of going somewhere else,” Radaich said.

Psychology sophomore Christina Smith said she doesn’t go out often, but sets a budget of $20 for each week to spend on going out. While she’s never been evacuated from a restaurant, she said she would be worried about returning.

“It would just take time for me to get over the fear and return,” Smith said.