KC native and business owner fights against COVID-19

By Mena Haas (mhaas13@jccc.edu). Haas is a staff photographer for the Campus Ledger. This is her second semester at the Ledger, and she enjoys taking photos of all that goes on at the college. She loves photography, music, traveling and doggies.

Small business owner, Willie Quinney’s motel and restaurant sits vacant in Silver Cliffe, Colorado as COVID shuts down many other businesses. Photo by Mena Haas.

Since COVID started back in January for the U.S. around 7.5 million small businesses were put at risk for closing. For small business owner Willie Quinney, his business has been closed since the 13th of March but will hopefully reopen in the future. Willie is a Kansas City native but lives in Silver Cliffe, Colorado where he and his wife Cheryl run Silver Cliff Mountain Inn and Restaurant, AKA “Willies”. 

 “We moved out here with the notion of running a little six-room hotel but at the time we were going to eat at different places and it just felt like I could do better than some of this stuff,” said Quinney. 

Willie and Cheryl went on to expanding the inn to have a restaurant for the locals. The inn and restaurant have been in Silver Cliffe for seven years now and is well known within the community. As of now, Willie and his wife decided it would be the smartest decision to close down the business until they can get their paperwork done for their recently approved loan. 

 “It’s hard on any small business. As a small business, you don’t have a lot of working capital. You might have a couple of months’ worth of savings for emergencies but as far as working capital no because every dime is pretty much going towards the business,” said Quinney.  

 Due to COVID, Willie has had to use all of his savings for taxes which caused the need for the loan. Willie is hoping to use some of the loan to pay his staff since they had to file for unemployment. The unemployment rate across the U.S. is recorded to be higher than the Great Depression. 

 For Willie’s staff, they understand the closing of the business but are here once the business is ready to open back up.  

 “Everyone is ready to come back, I’ve talked to them all and they say “yup we’re ready whenever you are boss”,” said Quinney.  

 Willie does everything he can to keep his staff happy and supported. 

 They can always come up here and get stuff out of the freezer if they needed anything,” said Quinney.  

 For Custer County, where Silver Cliffe is located, there have been two confirmed cases since COVID started. Silver Cliffe is still taking precaution and have no other choice, but to keep most stores closed until told otherwise. Some restaurants around town are open strictly for curbside but most have changed hours which have caused businesses to shut down early for the night. For employees working nightshifts, like some police officers in town, there is nowhere open to grab food, but Willie and his wife have changed that.  

 With some more time on Willie’s hands, he and his wife decided to make a difference within their community.  

 “We would fix dinner for the Sheriff’s department at night. There is a group of people, Cheryl’s daughter and others that would take turns two nights a week and we would cook a meal for the department,” said Quinney.  

 Since everything has stopped moving across the country Willie has not only been doing this but has also been working on changing up the menu and spending time with his family. For the first few weeks, it wasn’t so bad but now Willie is ready to get back. 

 “You get used to being with these people every day and you expect to see them every day so it takes a toll on you,” said Quinney.  

 Willie and Cheryl have no doubt in their minds that they will return to serve some yummy food to their regulars and the community. The date of returning is unknown as of right now but Willie is hopeful it won’t last too much longer.  

 “The thought of losing our business never crossed our minds. We knew we could get through this. We didn’t know it was going to be this long but we’ll open back up and be busy again,” said Quinney.  

 For Willie, he sees the light at the end of the tunnel, but for many small businesses across the country they will have no other choice but to close for good. During this time it’s important that we take a look at the small businesses that are still open and help support. 

 We could argue one day, but the next if someone needs help we’re all there. Everybody will jump in and help whoever needs help, that’s just the way this community is,” said Quinney. 

By Mena Haas 



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