MACOMB (WGEM) – Macomb has seen some new business over the past week. Perhaps most notable is Wildfire Bar and Grill.
Owned and operated by Blake Kelly and Claire Weinrich, the restaurant occupies part of a building at 928 Jackson Street. In the first week alone, Kelly said the restaurant had more than $35,000 in sales.
“It’s been amazing to see the support so far in our first week,” Kelly said. “We’ve seen so many people we know, and we’ve seen so many new faces, it’s crazy that we’ve been able to meet.”
The process started about six months ago. Kelly said he wanted to add food options to Macomb that the city didn’t already have.
“We’re trying to fill in the gaps that we saw Macomb needed,” Kelly said. “That’s ribs, steak, and mimosas in the morning.”
Lauren Merritt, executive director of the Macomb Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the new business was not new. Merritt said small businesses have grown by leaps and bounds since the pandemic.
“It’s something you don’t see anywhere,” Merritt said. “It’s always been that way, but especially over the last few years, with COVID and everything, I feel like our community has been very supportive and accepting of our small business.”
Merritt mentioned that by 2022, the city will have an average of 2 to 5 startups per month.
While Wildfire Bar & Grill is a nascent business, Sullivan Taylor cafe owner Brandon Thompson believes the new business presents an opportunity for all businesses.
Sullivan Taylor, who has run the plaza for 25 years, said Thompson said the more services Macomb offered, the more likely residents of the area would be spending money at home.
“After an hour, an hour and a half, there’s nothing, so the more we have, the fewer people leave town,” Thompson said. “Staying local helps us thrive and survive.”
For such a rural town, Mayor Michael Inman called Macomb’s small businesses “the backbone” of their economy.
“We do have large franchises in the community, whether it’s retail stores or restaurants, and we appreciate that, but our small business owners have too many franchises, especially in the last six to eight months,” he said. Mayor Inman said.
Inman noted that the vast majority of new business owners are relatively young. That could lead to more startups in the region, he said.
“A rising tide lifts all boats, and when you have thriving small businesses, it tends to make entrepreneurs think ‘If they can do it, I can do it,'” Inman said.
Wildfire Bar & Grill is still waiting for a liquor license.
Other recently opened businesses include 1 PHO and 2DYE4 Hair & Co. Mayor Inman said multiple entrepreneurs have since sought help to start the entrepreneurial process.
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