Some suburban business hit by storm, while others take advantage of it
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Some suburban businesses took an extended hit during the last three days of snow, while others have seen their workloads and revenues soar, owners and managers said Thursday.
Bartel's Auto Clinics in Carol Stream, Oswego and Plainfield saw a huge jump in calls for help from stranded motorists, said customer service Manager MaryAnn Hogan.
"We've been getting a lot of tows coming in for repair," Hogan said. "A lot of drivers have had flat tires, or they hit a curb or slid off the road. There's also been a lot of frozen windshield washer fluid out there as well."
Rosati's Pizza in Arlington Heights took advantage of the storm on New Year's Eve, New Year's Day and Thursday with an email to customers: "Arctic Blizzard Alert ... Let Rosati's do the driving and cooking tonight!" The last three days were very busy and revenues jumped 30 percent to 40 percent, said manager Rufino Conejo.
For those who ordinarily work from home, the day was no different. At Kim Gilmore's home advertising firm, Gilmore Marketing Concepts in Gilberts, employees were allowed to work from home. "I've been getting calls from clients all day," Gilmore said.
While auto and seasonal businesses have been taking off, others had difficulties over the New Year's holiday because of snow and ice that kept many drivers indoors.
Absolute Best Hair and Nail Salon in Wood Dale saw up to 70 percent of its appointments cancel due to the weather, said salon owner Kelly Soto.
"Sometimes the weather doesn't stop people when they want to get their hair done, but today (Thursday) was different," Soto said. "When it's snowing like this, no one wants to go out."
Many suburban restaurants had fewer guests for the holiday. And Mickey Finn's in Libertyville said on its website that it closed for lunch Thursday.
Like many area restaurants, Hackney's in Lake Zurich has seen a slow start to the new year. The popular eatery on Old Rand Road closed seven hours earlier than usual on New Year's Day. "We closed down at 3 o'clock. We are usually open until 10," said bar manager Scott Engelking. He added that the crowd on New Year's Eve was also a bit lighter than usual, due to the weather.
And about noon on Thursday, it was still slow. "No one has been in yet today," Engelking said. "Not a good start to the new year."
Bulldog Ale House, with locations in Carol Stream and Roselle, also saw fewer patrons over the last three days due to the snow, said Dani Landau, general manager at the Carol Stream location.
"On New Year's Eve, we expected over 200 and we got about 100 people," he said. "But we didn't close early or close on New Year's Day. We stayed open."
Entree Kitchen, where cooks prepare meals without prepping or cleaning up in Carol Stream, was empty Thursday.
"We typically have five to seven customers come to assemble meals by this time, but everyone canceled out. And our phone only rang twice today," said President Diane Beaulieu.
Divine Signs and Graphics in Schaumburg struggled in the storm as well. While the company creates signs, it also installs them and found that many clients asked to have the work postponed, said owner Jeff Miller.
"Also, several of our corporate clients already had skeleton crews due to the holidays," Miller said. "We have had a couple scheduled pickups from our vendors have to be changed around because they were closing early today in anticipation of more snow."
So how is he spending the time? Tool and machine maintenance, prepping and holding a meeting, he said.
"This unexpected 'open' time has provided us with an opportunity to sync up Ö. which was much needed after running hard every day in 2013 and finishing with another record year in sales in 2013," he said.
As a payroll company, AmCheck Payroll in Schaumburg doesn't "shut down" but instead goes into overdrive to take care of clients when they can't get in the office, said District Manager Katie Berganske, who went door to door to see customers on Thursday.
"Yes, there were a lot of businesses closed," Berganske said. "In fact, more than I thought would be. However, there were many that remained open. I had one company in a shopping center tell me I was the first person to walk in the door that day -- and it was noon at that point."
Despite bad roads and slow-moving traffic, Berganske said it was still a good opportunity to have conversations with people.
• Daily Herald Business Writer Kim Mikus contributed to this report.
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