HONESDALE, PA — By now, we all know the story. Just about every restaurant and small business throughout the Catskills and Poconos has been struggling to survive this pandemic. It was no …
HONESDALE, PA — By now, we all know the story. Just about every restaurant and small business throughout the Catskills and Poconos has been struggling to survive this pandemic. It was no different for Ba & Me, a small chain of Vietnamese eateries with locations in Callicoon, Honesdale and most recently Mountaindale.
“When [the pandemic] hit, our numbers dropped like 50 to 70 percent; it was very dismal,” said Nhi Mundy, the owner of Ba & Me. “It was at the point where I was struggling to pay one employee.”
She tried to adapt “right away,” setting up an online ordering service and making deliveries to people’s homes, “just to break even.” Fighting through the dark days of February, March and April, Mundy said that the restaurants’ numbers started getting back to normal by May, with online orders catching on and the “busy season” getting underway.
But 2020 continues to be a year of adaptation for Mundy. Just recently, she learned that she needed to find a new space for her Honesdale restaurant, which had been located among the quaint collection of shops off Main Street known as Maude Alley. With another business expanding, Mundy, and Sommer Santoro of the neighboring store Crazy Otto’s Vintage clothing and antiques, needed to find a new destination within the borough.
The owner of Maude Alley’s buildings commented that he wishes them well.
In looking for a new location, Mundy said she knew she couldn’t settle for anything different than staying on Main Street in Honesdale. She “fell in love” with the town during her first time visiting and “never looked back.” Out of all three of her locations, it’s also the only one that has stayed open year-round, five days a week.
“I cannot imagine opening up a restaurant anywhere else in the vicinity,” she said. “It’s a very unique town, and there’s so much potential for growth... It has the best of both worlds; it has a city feel, but it’s rural, it’s walkable, there are cute shops, and I think, overall, people in Honesdale are happy; the energy is just there.”
Having done it three times already, Mundy knows that opening up a new location is not cheap.
“It’s $25,000 off the bat, and that’s being modest,” she said. “We’re in the restaurant business; we don’t have savings... We’re on a month-to-month basis.”
So she’s asking the community for help. Mundy set up the “Ba & Me Honesdale Relocation Fund” on the crowdsourcing site Indiegogo.com where people can contribute money and receive an e-gift card for when the new location opens. After four days, they’ve raised about $5,000—40 percent of the $12,000 goal. With a couple of months left in the fundraiser, Mundy feels confident in hitting that number.
Now, the plan is to reopen up in Honesdale quickly. Mundy has already announced on Facebook that she has signed a lease at a new location and hopes to be back up and running by October of this year. This new space will house both Ba & Me and Crazy Otto’s Vintage.
“[Santoro and I] kind of built an alliance,” Mundy said. “We’re taking care of each other, and that’s what I’m trying to convey throughout all this: You have to look out for each other.”