In the Cattaraugus County village of Ellicottville, like many areas, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken an economic toll on those who live here, as well as the thousands of visitors to this year-round tourist destination.
What You Need To Know
- Pandemic has taken a financial toll on Ellicottville
- This annual Ellicottville Summerfest this weekend is canceled
- Restaurant owners hoping for an uptick in summer tourists
"It's tough. It's tough on our employees. It's just tough to run with this going on. People have been in all winter and then basically had to stay in for three months after winter," says Bill Bursee, Steelbound Brewery and Distillery owner.
Bursee has been in Ellicottville for two years, and says many of his customers still prefer to sit outside rather than indoors.
He says despite the recent reopening, complete with proper social guidelines, the business is going to take a major hit this weekend with the cancellation of the area's annual summerfest in conjunction with Canada Day.
"So, we're going to lose that. July was our biggest month last year and a lot of it is Canadians. So, the fact that the border is closed right now when this is our biggest Canadian holiday in Ellicottville," he says.
"Timing, if it had to happen, wasn't the worst. You get into that mud season if you will from March to May when a lot of things you know, kind of shut down. And some of the retailers actually reduce staff and reduce hours," says Corey Wiktor, County of Cattaraugus Industrial Development Agency executive director.
Wiktor says the pandemic has put a damper on the start of the tourism season, has caused large scale events to be postponed, and has delayed several development projects.
Despite the deep loss of revenue, Wiktor says he's encouraged by the renewed sense of spirit up and down village streets.
"We're hoping for brighter days ahead. You know, we are seeing our investment continue. It's not all doom and gloom. We don't know what's going to happen come the fall. Obviously, there's a big season coming up here with winter," Wiktor says.
Bursee adds that he's equally hopeful as crews continue to not only brew beer and distill spirits, but also manufacture hand sanitizer.
"Out here, it's rural. Our numbers are low. Everyone's following the rules. I think we'll turn back to normal real quickly out here," Bursee says.