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Naperville businesses work to weather the cold spell

<p>A lone pedestrian walks in downtown&nbsp;<a id="firsthit" name="firsthit"></a>Naperville&nbsp;Sunday afternoon. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times&nbsp;</p>

A lone pedestrian walks in downtown Naperville Sunday afternoon. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times 

The arctic blast that descended upon the Midwest may have left downtown Naperville moving a little slower Monday, but according to city officials and some local merchants, the only fallout so far is less pedestrian traffic.

“If you don’t have to be out today, you’re not going to leave home,” said Kim Bass, a salesperson who works at Country Curtains, located at 233 S. Main St. in Naperville. “We’re here today because we needed to be here to check on the store, take care of a few things, and be available for our customers. But I kind of doubt we’ll be open until 6 p.m. like we usually are.”

Mayor A George Pradel said all city departments and services were running as usual Monday morning and that he appreciated “everyone pitching in to help during these tough times.”

“All the streets and sidewalks have been cleared, and there have been no breakdowns or pipes bursting,” Pradel said. “We’ve checked with the Chamber of Commerce this morning and things are fine, other than we’ve learned that a couple of stores might open later. The streets are going to be emptier than usual, given schools are cancelled and the normal garbage removal services have been moved back a day.”

Pradel said that while there are contingency plans in place in light of an emergency, no extra crews or personnel have been brought in “since today is a regular working day and we have the same staff on duty working their normal hours.”

“We’re fortunate and so blessed we have great people to work with,” Pradel said. “People in the downtown businesses all pitch in and make things happen when the chips are down.”

Katie Wood, acting CEO of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce and executive director of the Downtown Naperville Alliance, said she emailed a number of merchants over the weekend about their status for Monday morning as well as spoke directly with nearly a handful before their businesses opened for the week.

“The only store we’ve heard that won’t be open is Two Bostons but as far as we know, everyone else plans to be open Monday,” Wood said. “We’ve told people through all our various social media channels to call ahead and make sure stores are operating. Here at the Promenade, there are people working at their desks in various offices as usual.”

Wood said parking lots were basically empty Monday morning and that pedestrian traffic was virtually non-existent, but she was hopeful that would change.

“The sun is out and the skies are clear, and that usually brings people out eventually,” she said. “Hopefully things will improve later in the day.”

Kyle Brady, an eight-year employee at the Naperville Running Company, said he expected business to be slow Monday and would be adjusting his plans for the day which included changing the workout for his athletes that he coaches at North Central College.

“The owner Kris Hartner meets with us in the morning and tells us what the sales number were like a year ago on the same date so we have some idea of the goal we’re trying to reach,” Brady said. “At this point, we’re hoping to do half the business we did a year ago and maybe make it up sometime later in the year when the weather is better.”

Brady said he plans to coach his runners at the college indoors Monday since “the risk factor of being outside outweighs the gain.”

Meanwhile at the local Heaven-on-Seven restaurant, manager Justin Beyer said a bowl of gumbo was likely to be the only cure Monday for those suffering from the cold weather.

“Our cooks get in here at 7 a.m. and they do a great job in terms of scaling back on the things they need to prepare each day if it looks like it’s going to be slow,” Beyer said. “Hopefully people will stop in for lunch and have the gumbo, which I recommend as the spices warm you inside and out. We’re not planning any ‘cold weather’ specials today other than the Blue Plate dish we have every Monday. But there’s still a lot of snow and ice, and wind is blowing and you don’t know who is going to come out.”

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