POTSDAM — The strain of social distancing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic was too much for a Market Street business to bear as it closed its doors Monday.

Soul Waffle, 57 Market St., had been alerting customers to changing hours of the restaurant on its Facebook page, joining the tide of business operations everywhere under the directive that keeps society indoors and at a distance during the escalating COVID-19 pandemic.

The restaurant, which opened in early October 2017, offered sweet and savory waffles, salads and more. The shop came about when one of the owners, Janelle Lavign, tried a Belgian Liege waffle, a smaller, slightly sticky version of the standard breakfast waffle.

The phone number for the restaurant is no longer in service. A message left with the restaurant via Facebook messenger was not answered by the time of this report.

Monro Auto Service and Tire Center, 174 Market St., has also closed its doors. The roadside and building signs have been removed and signs in the window direct customers to the Canton and Massena locations. On Monday afternoon, former employees were at the store with a trailer and only said they closed about a week ago, directing questions to District Manager Don Beebe. A message seeking comment with Mr. Beebe on Monday was not returned by Tuesday’s report.

A sign on the front door of the Soul Waffle, was clear in its explanation for closing Monday and reiterated a Facebook post made the same day on the Soul Waffle Facebook page:

“Hello all! Unfortunately, we’ve had to make a tough decision in light of the current global crisis. Soul Waffle will be closing its doors as unfortunately this storm is a little too big for our small business to weather. We love Potsdam, we love our community and our wonderful Waffle Slayer staff. This was a truly unique operation and I have been so blessed to have had this opportunity. Thank you so much to all who have supported us near and far! We hope that someday we’ll be able to come back in some shape or form. Thank you so much to our amazing Waffle Slayer team they have been a true force of awesome in this little shop; they are so loved and appreciated. Thank you all for everything! Stay healthy and Keep Slaying.”

The days leading up to the restaurant’s closing posts that began as early as March 14 indicated increased safety procedures in adherence with the Department of Health to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Four days later, a March 18 post announced decreased hours and curbside pickup only through ordering on the restaurant’s website, which was reiterated again on March 21, the last post before Monday’s closing announcement.

Several doors down from Soul Waffle, Christopher A. Durrand, co-owner of 3 Bears Gluten Free Bakery And Cafe at 51 Market St., lamented the closing of the restaurant.

He and his wife and co-owner, Faye M. Ori, who was putting up colorful cutouts in their front window, said they have also cut back on their hours but are continuing to serve the community.

“Business has dropped off quite a bit since the coronavirus, self-isolation happened,” Ms. Ori said. “We are doing our best to keep everything going, keep our employees employed, trying to get product in the cabinet and keep it fresh and still be here for the people who want and need us.”

And while they said they wanted to make sure their employees remain employed, Mr. Durrand, who has celiac disease, an immune disease in which people can’t eat gluten, said they also stay open for those who can’t find gluten-free products in stores.

“There are a lot of people that can’t find anything gluten free in the stores because it is disappearing so fast,” Mr. Durrand said. “We have this one girl who comes in and gets the same two sandwiches every day and she was terrified that we were going to close up and she wasn’t going to have food, so we’re trying to do our best to stay open.”

The couple said they are trying to stay positive and inspire the community to do the same.

“Obviously we are all going to have a hard time paying our bills, but we are trying to stay upbeat and encourage kids to send us pictures of what they are doing so we’ll put it on our Facebook page,” Mr. Durrand said. “You can see we are decorating our windows with butterflies and hearts to give people inspiration and try to get people to think positive, because we’ll get through this. It will just take time.”

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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