MACOMB (WGEM) – Over the past week, Macomb has seen some new businesses pop up. Perhaps most notably, Wildfire Bar & Grill.
Owned and operated by Blake Kelly and Claire Weinrich, the restaurant occupies part of a building at 928 W Jackson Street. In week one alone, Kelly said the restaurant generated over $35,000 dollars in sales.
“It’s been amazing to see the support so far in our first week,” Kelly said. “We’ve seen so many people that we know and so many new faces that we’re able to meet it’s just been insane.”
The process started about six months ago. Kelly said he wanted to add food options to Macomb that the city did not already have.
“We tried to fill the gaps on what we saw Macomb needed,” Kelly said. “That’s ribs, steak, with options of mimosas in the morning.”
New business is something that Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lauren Merritt said isn’t new. Since the pandemic, Merritt said small business development has skyrocketed.
“It’s something you just don’t see everywhere,” Merritt said. “It’s always been this way, but especially the last couple of years with COVID and everything, I just feel like our community has always really supported and embraced our small businesses.”
Merritt mentioned that in 2022, the city averaged between two and five startups per month.
While Wildfire Bar & Grill is a fresh business, Sullivan Taylor Coffee House Owner Brandon Thompson believes new businesses provide opportunities for all businesses.
Sullivan Taylor being an establishment on the square for 25 years now, Thompson said the more Macomb has to offer, the more likely area residents spend their money right at home.
“There’s nothing for an hour, hour and a half away, so the more we have the less people have to travel to leave town,” Thompson said. “Keep it local, help us thrive and survive.”
For such a rural town, Mayor Michael Inman calls Macomb’s small businesses the “backbone” of their economy.
“We do have large franchises in the community, whether that’s retail or restaurants and we’re grateful for that, but the small business owners we’ve had a plethora of that particularly in the last six or eight months,” Mayor Inman said.
Inman mentioned a good majority of new business owners are on the younger end. He said this could lead to even more startups in the area.
“Rising tide raises all ships and when you have small businesses that are thriving, it tends to get entrepreneurs thinking ‘if they can do it, I can do it,” Inman said.
Wildfire Bar & Grill is still awaiting a liquor license.
Other businesses that have opened their doors recently include 1 PHO and 2DYE4 Hair & Co. Mayor Inman indicated that multiple entrepreneurs have since sought help to begin the process of opening a business.
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