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Long Standing Businesses Weather COVID-19 Effects
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Four generations of the Bacigalupi family are shown in this file photo from 2019, when the group gathered at H-B for a ceremonial photo celebrating the anniversary of 80 years in the bar business. The family business was founded by David Bacigalupi on Feb. 22, 1939; it is currently closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic but hopes to reopen in May. Teresa Hammond/The Leader

While their businesses may be different their importance to the community of Oakdale as two long standing staples, are equally the same. Now navigating their way through the COVID-19 pandemic, Mike Bacigalupi of H-B Saloon and MaryAnne Heath of Moss Rose Bakery are equally grateful for the community of Oakdale.

“My last day was the 20th,” Kim Bacigalupi said.

Her brother Mike noted March 20th was the last day the East F Street restaurant and bar were open to patrons. They closed that night at 10 p.m. versus the customary 2 a.m. the hot spot is well known for.

Bacigalupi shared the crowd that final night was a healthy showing of community support, so much so they could have stayed open a bit later for a bit more business. Savvy to his clientele and respectful of the guidelines, the owner stated they stuck to the 10 p.m. closing time and sent their patrons home.

Business for Heath, however, on the northwest side of the highway has continued. Moss Rose Bakery has been able to maintain its set hours as well as staff providing in shop service with distancing guidelines in place, as well as curbside and delivery for those unable to make it in.

“It’s a whole different ball game,” Heath said of the bakery which she’s owned for 40 years. “Right from the get go, I reached out to the community and I said we’re here for you, we’re going to be here for you.”

As for Bacigalupi, with the unexpected close of his doors in March, he felt it would be temporary. With the President setting the initial goal to reopen the country by Easter, Bacigalupi and his family got to work on sprucing up the place a bit.

“They said by Easter things would be back open, we thought well that’s rodeo weekend so we better get going,” the bar owner said.

With that being Rodeo Weekend 2020, the family quickly got to work reframing photos, painting, even dusting the cowboy hats which surround the 81-year-old bar. Now with the date pushed out, the family continues to work on projects, including redoing the bar top and updating the women’s restroom.

“A lot of them are older,” Bacigalupi said of the many photos surrounding the bar, which they’ve now affixed with names, the owner able to put names to the faces.

The coming and going of a Rodeo Week that never happened hit the H-B especially hard. Known to be the busiest week of the year for the well-known bar, the family did its best to adjust its plans and roll with the current ride. The anticipation of Oakdale rodeo later this year is one they plan to be more than prepared for and hope to make the most of an unfortunate circumstance.

Currently not even the kitchen of Bachi’s restaurant is operating. Bacigalupi shared once the re-open date for the state has been established, they will get the kitchen back up and running prior for take-out service.

True to his commitment to the town, the community and fellow business owners, all business for the sprucing up was given to Oakdale Ace Hardware.

“He’s Oakdale,” Bacigalupi said of the local store.

“I’ve been here long enough that I can withstand it,” the longtime owner said of the shutdown. “It is what is, I can’t change it.”

As Heath continues to operate her business, with a complete staff, she too acknowledges her good fortune of long tenure through this difficult time.

“I won’t cut my staff. I’ll take a hit before I’ll let my people take one,” she said. “The community came behind me so strong.”

Early into the start of the quarantine Heath shared bread sales spiked as it was hard to find in stores. She also made loaves for donation to Community Sharing to aid with maintaining their community pantry.

“That’s what we do in Oakdale,” she said.

As business is down for her, just like most local businesses, the bakery veteran shared she maintains her focus on the community and taking care of the people who need it.

“My faith in God is very strong. I’m blessed. I’m in a situation where we can get by,” she confided. “It’s scary, I knew it was going to be a financial hit that I didn’t want to take, but it is what it is. I’m proactive, not reactive.”

As for the Bacigalupi family, as they use the time to care for the family business on the inside, the closure marks a first time their doors have been closed more than two consecutive days.

“My grandfather always said you have to open on Christmas and Thanksgiving for people who have nowhere to go,” Kim Bacigalupi said, “but you have to close early enough that you don’t get blamed for people not going home.”

The family remains hopeful that they will return to business as usual by early May.