Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

December 4, 2020

COVID-19: Area businesses share survival secrets 

PHOTOS | CONTRIBUTED A sampling of the offerings at Havenly Treats in New Haven.

All businesses have had to adapt in order to navigate the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and some area businesses have employed helpful strategies.

On Thursday morning, the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Council hosted a webinar, “Making the Season Bright: The Creativity of Retailers, Restaurants, and Businesses During the Pandemic.”

The event was an opportunity for leaders to share what they have done to keep their businesses going throughout the pandemic and during this holiday season.

Ray Andrewsen, the chamber’s director of membership services, said businesses are showing  creativity, determination and hope.

“This is the time to support businesses - it has been a tough year,” he said.

Bryant George, chair of the Small Business Council, said that while downtown New Haven had more activity in the warmer months, the return of colder weather has negatively impacted the amount of customers coming to dine outside.

“These are businesses that have been in our community for years, and we need to support them,” he said.

The event featured several area business leaders, who described changes they have made in hopes that their strategies might help others.

Caterina Passoni, executive director of Havenly Treats, which opened in September on Temple Street in New Haven, serves Iraqi food, such as baklava and falafel sandwiches.

Passoni said the business has started a line of holiday gift boxes, available for ordering online, with treats such as baklava and jam inside, with the goal of reaching more customers. 

John Proto, executive director of the Shore Line Trolley Museum in East Haven, said it is making sure the Santa tradition isn’t diminished this holiday season.

There may be no sitting on Santa’s lap, and less capacity, but children can still visit Santa, who is behind plexiglass. They are also offering museum visits via Zoom this year.

Christina Fitzgerald, director of sales and marketing with Union League Café, said the restaurant, which has been in business for some 27 years, has pivoted in many ways. 

They have opened up Sundays for brunch, and started offering to-go service. The restaurant is also offering special holiday trays geared for different size groups. They are also offering gift cards, and Fitzgerald urged people to take advantage of them.

“It has been so catastrophic - please try to support with gift cards,” Fitzgerald said. “We want to be here another 27 years.”

The Shubert Theatre

Carla Sullivan, vice president of external relations with the Shubert Theatre, said the virus has caused the theater  to look for other ways to engage with patrons, so they have held online events to continue to entertain audiences.

Jeffrey Zeitlin, loyalty director with IKEA, said the business has expanded its capacity for curbside pickup. Also, customers can text IKEA through an app when they are in the parking lot, so they can get their purchases and avoid any contact.

“The key is flexibility,” Zeitlin said.

Contact Michelle Tuccitto Sullo at 

Sign up for Enews


Order a PDF