Ian and Hailey McDermit, owners of the Pump Bar in Oklahoma City’s Uptown neighborhood, said operating a business during a pandemic has been anything but consistent.
The bar and restaurant was closed earlier this month after an employee tested positive for COVID-19, triggering a costly cleanup effort.
“When an employee gets sick, we typically close and we scrub the place, clean it. It’s really expensive,” Ian said. “We see that continuing to happen. And to do that would just hit us hard every time. It just does not seem realistic.”
This week the Pump Bar announced it will close on Tuesday for the winter. There is no return date set, as it will depend on the weather.
The couple said the decision to close was made with job security in mind.
“It's an emotional decision, it's a painful decision, but it's a plan,” Ian said.
“We wanted to have some jobs to come back to in Spring,” Hailey said. “We feel if we (were to) go on the way we are, at some point we’d have to actually close.”
The couple said, even after borrowing money, business during the pandemic has not been sustainable. To promote social distancing, the restaurant has removed seating and required masks inside.
Oklahoma City retailers said they are also on the brink of closure, and this holiday shopping season could make or break their business.
“We're not just going to close; we want to come back and come back strong. And I know Ian and I will do anything to make that happen,” said Hailey McDermit.