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OPINION: New Hope can make it if we all do our part

By Mike Wieners

It is 95 degrees and it feels like 106. 

I have been on my feet outside for six straight hours. I am hot, sweaty and exhausted. Despite this, I am happy — happy to be able to do what I love and serve my friends and patrons at John and Peter’s. 

With each round of revisions to our governor’s plan to reopen, I have been forced to reinvent my business model to ensure that I can keep compliant, and in so doing ensure the safety of my staff and those that are visiting us. The stress of all of this has certainly impacted my ability to sleep, and thus makes each day a little bit more difficult to muster up the strength and motivation to put one foot in front of the other.  

All of that said, what we are doing at its most basic level is fighting to keep our dream alive. With each day of positive sales, we are slowly rebuilding our bank accounts to prepare for the upcoming winter. We are doing this knowing that the two-and-a-half-month shutdown has decimated the finances of our small “slice of heaven.” We have lost roughly 50 percent of our annual revenue, we have incurred debt in the form of needed forgiveness of our monthly obligations, and we are now operating with minimal capacity and almost completely at the mercy of the weather. Heat and rain are all too common this time of year, and with each glance at the forecast, we wince and hope that people will brave the elements and join us. Each day, we are pleasantly surprised to see smiling eyes above our masks. 

Our community has truly rallied together in support of all of our beloved establishments, and the warmth and generosity that we have seen has truly humbled me to my core. When I took over John and Peter’s three years ago, I would have never thought that we would find ourselves in a position where we would have needed to lean so heavily on the community to keep our heads above water, yet here we are and we are making the best of it. This can be made difficult by those who feel it necessary not to comply with the rules that we are forced to uphold. Masks are required when standing or moving about the facility. This is not negotiable in any form. 

Remember that dining out is a privilege, not a right, and as such it can be taken away if you feel it necessary to willfully violate the rules. We find ourselves working far harder to do what we love these days, and we really don’t need to hear your opinion about masks, as we really and truly don’t care about opinions. Cursing at us and telling us that we are stupid for wearing masks and enforcing policies is counterproductive and downright shameful. We care about staying open, and that means masks are mandatory to maintain the safety of everyone around you. There is nothing we can do about it, and we will do everything in our power to ensure that we can remain operational, as a secondary shutdown will all but decimate the small businesses of our beloved little town.

In summary, we are stressed, nervous, happy, tired and staring directly into the unknown these days. We implore you to adhere to the rules and support all of our small businesses, but please do so in a polite and compliant manner. We have worked very hard to get where we are and there is still a very long way to go to recovering in full and restoring life to “normal.” 

We need to continue to rally together and stay positive, while thinking about the well-being of everyone around us.

Mike Wieners is co-owner of John & Peter’s at 96 S. Main St. in New Hope.

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  • Mike,
    Shortly before Covid you turned me and 3 of my friends away from your bar because I gave you a goofy card that had instructions on how to make a margarita the way I like it. It was a joke but you rudely told me and my friends to go to another bar. It’s that type of attitude that will put you out of business, not Covid. Good luck.

    • Oh, you sound delightful.
      That is a crappy stunt and I’m glad they tossed you.
      You didn’t mean it as a joke, the bartender did not have time for your stunt and told you to hit the bricks. Now your nose is out of joint.
      Go to a chain brand restaurant with that foolish stunt. You may not get thrown out but they’ll serve you a premixed drink from a tap, call it a margarita and do it with a fake smile.

  • Ok Rock Madison gets my vote for best post ever on nhfp. Stockholm Syndrome is the perfect call for what’s going on. And now, John and Peters, our fearless (when it comes to his own family business exempted from lockdown) Governor Orwell-Wolf is spending his time defining “what is a meal”. The dollar hot dogs at J&Ps may not make the grade according to Wolf’s Ministry of Meal Definition. Not kidding…google it.

    • Thanks for the kind words! Just in from the Penn. Restaurant & Lodging Association: forecasting 7,500 restaurants in the state to permanently close and take 200,000 jobs with them. It’s more important than ever for business owners to stand up and refuse to be put out of business (among other things it is a clear violation of their Constitutional rights under the 14th Amendment). Also time to get the county officials off their as*es and stand up with them. They can wave or suspend any licensing-related actions. They have a health department we pay for that should be calling the shots instead of incompetents in Harrisburg. Tell them to work for you.

  • Everyone should be wearing a mask walking through town or wanting to spend time in local establishments. Anyone who does not wear one isn’t being cool or independent — they are endangering themselves and other people. When wearing a seat belt, stopping at red lights and securing kids in car seats are all considered acceptable because they save lives, what is in the minds of some who consider masks to be an infringement on their liberties rather than a responsible safety measure. If they don’t want to wear masks for helping to stop the spread of the virus so that we can all get back to our lives, then they should stay home.

  • Your insight and empathy are certainly genuine and heartfelt, and you willingness to persevere is inspiring. But also consider getting out of the “Stockholm Syndrome” mode and start recognizing that your executive leadership is the problem, not the solution.

    Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal identifies Pennsylvania as 6th highest in the country for permanent restaurant closures (joining California, Illinois NY, Michigan and NJ in the top 10). Your governor (I can’t consider him mine at this point, since he hasn’t shown up for work in months and aggressively vetoes any transparency efforts) insisted you could operate at 50% capacity– spoken like a true non-businessperson– and now expects you to stay open at 25% capacity. Maybe you should take that up with him and explain Business 101?

    He’s being charged with negligence for his infamous bungling of the unemployment system after putting millions of my fellow Pennsylvanians out of work– yet had state IT resources get a “snitch portal”up and running in record time. While some of the unemployed are STILL waiting for checks. I see comments complaining about “mask-reporting ‘Karens'” up above. Sounds like “blame the victim” instead of being able to blame the person responsible: your governor.

    So if you really want to make sure New Hope businesses can survive and thrive, and “get back to normal” (instead of this so-called “new normal” green-phase whatever you’re going to be locked into indefinitely) get on the phone and email and tell state and county officials to stop empowering him and start fighting for your interests instead.

    I do wish you the best of luck in staying open and viable through this.

  • Well said Michael!
    Thank you for everything you and all the small businesses in New Hope / Lambertville are doing to stay open safely!
    Wishing you lots of cool sunny days.

  • Mike –

    Your comments are so well-stated. Wishing you strength (and rest!) as you navigate the next few months. The New Hope community loves and respects you!

  • Science will eventually solve the problem but community and mutual respect is the answer to survival. Hopefully we will all rally behind this gem of New Hope! Your message is heartfelt and poignant Wishing you success and a bright future. I will try to do what I can. Thank you for what you do.

  • Please remember, the owners of these small businesses did not make the rules. They are complying with the rules imposed upon them by the state. There are plenty of “Karens” out there who are all too willing to make a quick phonecall about non-compliance and get a business, that is already suffering financially, hit with a fine or shut down. You don’t want to wear a mask? Fine, go somewhere else. Don’t interfere with someone else’s livlihood/dream.

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