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‘It’s like being released from jail’ -- How first day of reopening has gone in Northern Michigan

Rod Meloni visits Frog Tiki Bar in Prudenville

PRUDENVILLE, Mich. – While Metro Detroit gets ready for a partial reopening next week, the northern part of the state has already seen bars, restaurants and retail back up and running.

Local 4′s Rod Meloni went north to see what the first days of reopening are like. He made his way to the town of Prudenville, just off of I-75.

Rod checked out the Frog Tiki Bar just a few minutes west of West Branch. The bar is very popular, and it attracted quite a few customers Friday.

Frog Tiki Bar also offered a glimpse at the challenges businesses will face when they reopen.

As the signs went up and the doors started opening, Michiganders said they’re happy to see even a partial reopening.

“It’s like a burden lifted off your shoulders to be able to be out,” said Paula Fuller, of the Houghton Lake Historical Society.

“It’s like being released from jail,” Houghton Lake resident Bob Barke said.

All of a sudden, bars and restaurants are starting to see the business they could have only hoped for a week ago. They’re allowed to open at 50% capacity, as long as groups are kept six feet apart.

“We’ve been waiting for this for honestly two months,” Frog Tiki Bar Owner Kathy Grover said. “It’s a big day. It’s our first weekend. It’s a big weekend.”

The bar is one of three tourist businesses Grover owns and runs. Her Springbrook Bed and Breakfast is open, but quiet.

Her restaurant, the East Bay Grille, is closed -- not for a lack of businesses, but a lack of help.

“I need two cooks, a housekeeper and a dish washer,” Grover said.

The reopening came as a bit of a surprise to some business owners. Grover said the bar itself almost didn’t get open by Friday.

“To be open today I had to call old employees and beg them to come back to work, otherwise I wouldn’t have had enough workers,” Grover said.

She said the business will figure out how to operate, knowing others just miles away can’t open their doors yet.

“Luckily, I have a lot of space and my liquor license was everywhere but in this parking lot, so I could spread out,” Grover said. “I still lose about 25 seats, which is a nice chunk of money.”


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