As Pandemic Wanes, Eugene-Springfield Businesses Strive To Rebound

Jun 16, 2021

Oregon businesses are eager to resume the pre-pandemic economy. Yet even with COVID-19 cases declining, there are challenges.

Stephen Sheehan, co-owner of the Elk Horn Brewery, with ongoing development across the street from his establishment.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

Stephen Sheehan co-owns the Elk Horn Brewery in Eugene. He told KLCC that between the pandemic, wildfires, and neighboring construction projects…

“It’s been just a crazy, ridiculous year.”

A construction crane hovers about Sheehan's brewery, as lunchtime diners fill out the lot.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

On one side, events like the NCAA track and field championships, the Olympic Trials, and graduations have driven crowds back to the brewery and other eateries. But Sheehan is also struggling to hire back staff and keep the bills paid.

“We normally open at 11 o’clock, now we have to open at 12, we normally stay open until 10 or 11, now we have to close at 9 o’clock,” explained Sheehan. 

“All my employees here, that’ve been with me forever, they’re going into overtime which is another thing killing every business, y’know!  We’re tired.  We’re working our butts off to keep the places open.”

Beginning next month, Oregon’s unemployment recipients must resume work searches.  That’s expected to help re-staff businesses like Sheehan’s. 

NCAA flags.  The championship event and Olympic trials in June are expected to help area businesses improve on sales from 2020, during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Credit Karen Richards

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With the influx of athletes, coaches, journalists, and tourists pouring into Eugene-Springfield lately, local businesses pinched by the pandemic are enjoying a long-needed bump in profits.

Stephen Sheehan of the Elk Horn Brewery said their lunch specials and regulars have really helped over the past year.

And now, their proximity to the University of Oregon is paying off, as well.

“The NCAA’s been great for us.  I feed teams from all over the country, we have a packed restaurants every Saturday, we feed 95 recruits from the football team, and every Oregon football coach. Every week there’s three different groups of recruits that come in for Oregon football. The university’s been really good to us.”

Sheehan does worry that after the Olympic Trials, business will cool off again.  But with pandemic restrictions steadily easing across Lane County, receipts should still be better than 2020’s.

Copyright 2021, KLCC.