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Opening a new business in 2020: Why these owners decided to take the gamble

FOX43 spoke to two local business owners who decided to launch their dreams, even in the midst of the global pandemic

Eric Fee opened his restaurant, The Blue Sky Tavern in Newberry Township, on November 8th.

Brittney Russell opened her new gym, BE Strong Performance in Red Lion, two weeks before Pennsylvania's second temporary shutdown.

Now both owners are waiting for November 4 to launch indoor business again as they both followed their dreams despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

"If serving others is what you want to do you're going to figure out a way whether it's downsizing or changing or whatever it is you're going to find a way," said Russell, who credits the pandemic with giving her the final kick to follow her dream of rebranding her business. She said she had been thinking about rebranding her business known as Black Powder CrossFit and moving its location from Dallastown since 2019. 

When the first shutdown happened in spring, Black Powder was forced to close, giving Russell the perfect time to plan the move and a new name: BE Strong Performance. 

"The pandemic struck and you know my business was shut down and you know, I couldn't do anything," she said. "And, it was almost like, well, you know, maybe it's a sign that we need to move this direction."

Fee had been planning The Blue Sky Tavern's debut for two years when the pandemic hit. However, he viewed 2020 as an opportunity to launch the restaurant.

"We thought our product is a good product and people will come to it whether it's take out or in person," Fee said as he said the restaurant's food menu proved to be a strong draw to keep customers coming back. When the restaurant opened November 8 he said it had a fantastic start out of the gate. However, just weeks after the debut the state's second round of restrictions began that blocked indoor dining. 

"Honestly, we couldn't have more support from our community. And, everybody's been great," said Fee, who said he looks forward to having people sit at the bar eventually and taking advantage of warmer weather when the restaurant can open its outdoor seating. "People have really been coming through since the closure with gift cards and things like that."

As for Russell, she has moved most services online as gyms are also not allowed to operate indoors until January 4. She admits it has been a tough road to navigate as the bills to operate, move, and rebrand her business continue to come in even as gyms remain closed.

However, she said she is happy about her decision to launch BE Strong Performance at Red Lion as downsizing her business' space has allowed her to invest in better amenities and better service. She is also able to build her new location from the ground up, allowing her to make her gym her own.

"We want to create, you know our legacy," she said.

"I'm learning everything as we go," said Russell, who later added "the future is limitless."