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COVID-19: Popular Northern Westchester Business Closes

The Katonah Reading Room
The Katonah Reading Room Photo Credit: Katonah Reading Room

A popular Northern Westchester business has been forced to permanently shut its doors after temporarily closing earlier due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Katonah Reading Rooms permanently shut down its business' after being forced to shut down in March due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Coronavirus destroyed the Katonah Reading Room,” Pete Menzies, the co-owner of the business said. “It was slow and brutal, a piercing of the heart, and it hurt more than you can imagine.”

Menzies said that late in March, he and his wife, Gretchen, had to call more than 20 employees to lay them off before ultimately making the determination to shut the doors for good.

“Gretchen and I started talking, for probably the hundredth time about this disastrous situation,” he said. “We talked about how much money we were losing, about how weird it was to not know when we could re-open.

“I finally admitted out loud that I thought that we were going to lose our businesses. I couldn’t see a path forward.”

According to Menzies, his business received an EIDL grant and PPP loan, but it wasn’t enough to keep the doors open amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We rehashed every scenario, ran numbers again and again,” he said. “It just didn’t work. Our business was going to die.

“The loan wasn’t going to help,” he added. “We couldn’t ask employees to come back to work under unsafe conditions. Most were making more with unemployment. They were better off staying home and safe with their families.”

Menzies said that the margins in the restaurant business are too tight for many to endure a global pandemic, and he needed to complete 150 transactions daily to break even, a number the Reading Room wasn’t even reaching half of.

“We have to close the Reading Room," he said. "It can’t come back out of this catastrophe and be the same."

“It needs a rest, and it needs to weather this storm.”

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