COVID not stopping new small business investment in Shepherdstown

West Virginia

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. (WDVM) — In the charming eastern panhandle community of Shepherdstown, COVID has caused many businesses to close and jobs to be lost. But it hasn’t broken the town’s entrepreneurial spirit.

As is the case everywhere, the coronavirus has devastated small businesses on the proverbial “main street.” Shepherdstown is no exception, despite its allure as a Jefferson county jewel. But Jim and Connie Heyer have brought a creative spirit, a love for gourmet dining, and affection for their dog Lilah — who they lost after 16 years — to invest in a new venture in the heart of town.

“We realized it was a rough time,” says Connie Heyer, “but we were trying to follow our dream and we thought we could make it work.”

And work it will, insists executive chef Kevin Longmire who lost his job at the upscale steak house in the nearby Charles Town gaming casino when COVID forced sweeping layoffs there. As he sees it, cabin fever has taken its toll and a place like Lilah’s is the perfect retreat.

“Everyone’s been indoors. they want to see something new,” Longmire says. “They want to come out and they want to reconnect with family and friends. Part of our statement is ‘food, drink, community.'”

But Heyer knows these are challenging times for any entrepreneur taking a risk during the pandemic. Nonetheless, she and her team are determined to succeed.

“We went in with a business plan that was very realistic based on what we were going through with COVID,” says Heyer.

And while caution is the watchword now when venturing out, Heyer and her team are following all the protocols to protect patrons. For the time being, anyway, the restaurant is just doing curbside pick up and carry out, with dine-in guests welcome as soon as the coronavirus is no longer a public health concern.

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