Chelsea business owners optimistic as reopening phase begins

CHELSEA – This week marked the beginning of a new chapter for many local business owners during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Kay Ivey’s amended safer-at-home order effective May 11 allowed restaurants, salons, gyms and other businesses throughout the state to reopen with social-distancing and sanitation guidelines in place.

For business owners and leaders in Chelsea, the new order served as a big step forward in the process of slowly resuming normal operations.

“We’re off to a good start,” Mayor Tony Picklesimer said. “I think everybody is ready to get back going again.”

Station 31 Kitchen owner Jeff Webster reopened the restaurant’s dining room on May 11, and said the day went smoothly for his staff.

“Chelsea has been really good to us,” Webster said, and added the community’s unwavering support during the shutdown allowed the restaurant to continue operating and keep all of its employees. “We’re here to support Chelsea as best we can, and our restaurant will not close.”

Webster said the restaurant is following all health guidelines and spacing requirements listed in the governor’s order for restaurant dining rooms.

Station 31 Kitchen will continue takeout and curbside pickup services, too.

“We base everything on our faith, and everything happens for a reason,” Webster said. “We didn’t know what to expect, but we knew God would take care of us, and he has. We are so blessed.”

Station 31 Kitchen employee Sabrina Lang delivers a customer’s meal in the restaurant. (Reporter Photo/Keith McCoy)

Chelsea Coffee House owner Jeff Gross also was excited to welcome customers back into his shop when he opened May 12.

Gross said people can sit inside or outside on the coffee shop’s patio, which will help with the half-capacity and distancing requirements.

Chelsea Coffee House will be open Tuesday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-3 p.m., until further notice. Check the coffee shop’s Facebook page for updates.

“We have great customers and a great following, so we’ll be fine,” he said.

Will Lantrip, owner of Willpower Fitness Gym, said his reopening after a six-week closure has gone smoothly, mainly because members have respected the new guidelines.

“It’s very nice to be back in here,” Lantrip said. “I knew God would get us going again, and he has.”

Lantrip said anyone with questions about the guidelines or becoming a member can reach out to him at (205) 903-8591 or via the Willpower Fitness Gym Facebook page.

“We just want to get going, and we want to see business pick up,” Lantrip said. “If we all pitch in and help each other out, we’ll all get going again.”

Chelsea Family Fitness owners Wesley and Sabrina White reopened their doors this week, too, with all required social distancing and sanitation guidelines in place.

Current and new gym members will need to sign updated paperwork at the front desk when they come in, Wesley said.

Chelsea Family Fitness is offering an outdoor Boot Rona Boot Camp featuring “social distancing, sanitized equipment, free sunshine sanitizer, knowledgeable instructors and great music,” its description reads.

“We’re still identifying and trying to meet every expectation,” Sabrina said. “We’re excited that our customers are excited. We’re getting tons of positive feedback.”

Check the Chelsea Family Fitness Facebook page or call (205) 677-2222 for updates on gym hours and offerings.

DK & Company Salon owner Desiree Jemison said she was “elated” to reopen her salon this week.

“I am playing catchup,” Jemison said. “My book is already full for the next month. I’m elated that I was allowed to open.”

Jemison said the salon’s days and hours of operation are the same as they were before the shutdown.

Visit the DK & Company Salon Facebook page for more information and updates.