As small businesses try to survive the coronavirus pandemic, some are looking for loans to help them. (WYDaily / Courtesy Kacie Celli)

When Gina Celli started her chocolate chip cookie business in Williamsburg a year ago, she never predicted that a pandemic would change the way she did business.

Celli’s Chocolate Chips is a local cookie company run by Gina and her family. Gina wakes up early every morning and starts baking lots of cookie varieties, but now she only does what was ordered.

“Our type of business is very festive in these strange times,” she said. “People are happy to send joy to someone, so that’s what we did.”

Gina’s daughter, Kacie Celli, said their business for the most part is busy. People have adapted to a new system where they order and collect their cookies in the outside hall.

Kacie said the recipes are made in smaller batches, which means people can’t walk into the store and choose their cookies from a selection.

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“For us, thank goodness it’s business as usual,” she said. “It brings joy and normalcy in these unprecedented times. It’s crazy right now, but I think if we can help people not think about it for a little while, even if it’s just eating a cookie, then we provide a bright spot.

The business still generates enough income to pay its rent and bake the cookies. This is why, said Gina, they have not yet considered applying for the small business loans.

“I don’t think that’s a path we have to take at this point,” Gina said. “I think we’re a little different because we’re a family business, so I don’t have a huge payroll and people to lay off.”

Many businesses across the country are suffering and are looking to the federal and state governments for help. Over the past month, the federal government has rolled out small business loans to help businesses keep going during this difficult time.

But on Thursday, the $ 349 billion small business emergency loan program ran out of money, according to the Small Business Administration website.

And as government officials decide to move forward, small businesses in the region must find ways to keep their lights on.

“We wake up every day and I really try to pretend things are the same,” Gina said. “Just go with the cooking mentality and try not to think about how different the world is.”

Charlie Messina, owner of Little Charlie’s Pizza and Doraldo’s Ristorante Italiano, said he had not fired any of his staff because of the coronavirus.

“The only way we are going to be successful together is to do whatever we need to do to survive this,” Messina told his Doraldo side.

Messina said her restaurant servers were making deliveries and her pizzeria continued to offer take-out orders.

Both businesses are open during normal hours.

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“It’s working, we could use all the support we can,” he said. “We are doing whatever we need to do to stay afloat”

Messina applied for a payday loan last week and he did not receive an update on Friday. While he still has bills to pay, in the meantime he takes money out of his pocket to match his employee’s salary.

“It’s hard for me to send my staff home,” he said. “I have staff who have been with me for 13, 14 years.

“We are very grateful to our customers,” added Messina. “We have no words to express support for our business.”


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