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Michelle Kaiser of Town Square Event Design creates small bouquets using flowers from a wedding order that she couldn’t cancel even though all of her events have been canceled for the next eight weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She sold the bouquets for $5.

Restricting large gatherings has had a big impact on a number of businesses, but it’s been an absolute punch in the gut to event venues.

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to spread across the globe, stricter guidelines designed to limit personal interaction continue to be implemented.

It began Sunday, March 15, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that events with 50 or more people be postponed for the next eight weeks, and it tightened on St. Patrick’s Day, when the Miami County Commission prohibited gatherings of more than 10 people.

This was on top of the universal guideline that everyone practice “social distancing” by staying at least 6 feet from each other to prevent the spread of the virus.

Michelle Kaiser, owner of Town Square Event Design in Paola, said all of her events have been canceled for the next eight weeks. She estimates the fallout has already cost her about $100,000.

Despite the cancellations, Kaiser is finding herself as busy as ever trying to find ways to help the community and keep her business afloat.

On Friday, March 20, she cleaned out the Town Square fridges and put together to-go meals of lasagna and tuna casserole that she sold to local families.

“I’ve been trying to think of ways to help,” Kaiser said. “I can cook. I know not everyone cooks.”

Kaiser wants to give back because she said the community has been so supportive of her, especially during this difficult time.

When a flower order couldn’t be canceled in time for a weekend wedding, Kaiser split all the flowers up into small bouquets and sold them for $5 during a “Floral Friday” sale March 20. Community members stepped up, and Kaiser soon found herself sold out of bouquets.

Kaiser knows this downturn won’t last forever. She said most of her brides have already transferred their wedding dates, and she’s even showed the event space to a few couples planning for a future event.

“After this is done, people are still wanting to get married,” Kaiser said.

Restaurants have also been hit hard by the COVID-19 restrictions.

Starting Thursday, March 19, Miami County eateries were ordered by Local Health Officer Dr. Donald Banks to close their dine-in options to the public, but they were allowed to continue carry-out, drive-through and delivery services.

Signs began popping up on restaurant windows throughout the county, declaring that the business was open to carry-out customers only.

Some, like Beethoven’s No. 9 in Paola, are experimenting with creative new ways to serve customers. Beethoven’s announced on its Facebook page that it is creating set meals each week that will be delivered to residences in Paola, Osawatomie, Louisburg and Spring Hill. Orders are being taken via Facebook Messenger.

The first week’s menu included Meatloaf Monday, Taco Tuesday, Wacky Wednesday, Stroganoff Thursday, Spaghetti Friday, Pork Roast Saturday and Chicken Breast Sunday.

Miami County Economic Development Director Janet McRae is doing her part by working with local chambers of commerce to try to keep track of how local businesses are making changes to their methods and services as a response to COVID-19.

Businesses who respond to a survey at www.tinyurl.com/MiCoSurvey are featured together on the Visit Miami County, Kansas Facebook page. Local residents are encouraged to check out the list and find ways to continue to support the local businesses.

Editor and Publisher Brian McCauley can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or brian.mccauley@miconews.com.

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