HOUGHTON LAKE, Mich. – Northern Michigan got the green light to reopen Friday, and we took a firsthand look inside a popular bar and several other businesses.
With bars and restaurants opening at 50% capacity and retail also resuming, the northern parts of the state are on the road back to normal.
Local 4′s Rod Meloni checked out a popular restaurant and bar in Prudenville and some other businesses in Houghton Lake.
Friday was just what the doctor ordered up north, with bright sunshine, 75-degree weather and drinks with umbrellas in them.
Servers were wearing masks, but customers didn’t have to, as long as they kept their six-foot distance from other groups.
Houghton Lake business owners started getting the town back to Memorial Day business as best as they could.
The season’s first farmer’s market popped up outside the historical society’s playhouse. Inside, people could follow the social distancing arrows to take part in the flea market.
Donna Sackett, of Livonia, came with a renewed appreciation for the little things in life.
“It’s wonderful,” Sackett said. “It’s absolutely awesome. We are keeping our social distance in places like this and we were surprised it was open, but we were glad.”
For three generations, the Rockin’ Chair Gift Shop, with its attention-grabbing, child pleasing fiberglass and cement animals outside, has peddled Houghton Lake visitors their T-shirts, moccasins and collectible rocks.
Owner Scott Bockelman used X’s on the floor to help customers keep six feet apart. He also put up plexiglass at the counter and has bleach solution at the ready.
“I have bleach and I wipe off for all customers -- the keypad, the door handles,” Bockelman said. “I think I have everything I’m supposed to have, anyway.”
For many, just sitting in a restaurant and getting served is a welcomed change.
At Joe’s Coney Island, owner Joe Van De Velder said it’s been a long, cold, stressful winter. He’s glad it’s in the past.
“It was very difficult,” he said. “We had to throw out food. We were giving it away. We lost a lot of money. We shut down a business, let your employees go, try to take care of everybody and everything, paying for the house, not bringing anything in.”
The business is expecting a big crowd Friday night. There’s going to be live music and a party.