LOWER PROVIDENCE — As businesses reopened on Friday, it was a good time for folks to keep in mind the small independent shops that have been struggling during the pandemic, noted Colleen Kriebel, owner of Kriebel’s Custom Bakery.

Tucked away in the Colonial Shopping Center at 3140 Ridge Pike, Eagleville, Kriebel’s Custom Bakery not only offers personalized cakes, but a variety of bakery specialties from elegant “patisserie” style morsels to cupcakes and sticky buns.

"A lot of what I hear is, ‘if you see it here, buy it here, keep us here.’ That’s kind of the small business slogan right now, supporting small business,” said Kriebel, who is looking forward to a renewed demand for large cakes.

“During the shutdown all parties, all weddings and events were canceled. The gatherings can now be bigger, so people aren’t looking for the four-inch cakes, which cost $12, but bigger cakes, (starting around $40), and hopefully with the bigger party gatherings we’ll be back in business like normal soon,” Kriebel noted.

Although it may be more discretely located than the corporate chain outpost down the road, Kriebel’s can easily accommodate all of your morning coffee requirements along with that tasty pastry.

It’s mostly a walk-in-take-out kind of place, but cozy café seating — with physical distancing, of course —  will be making a return as well. 

The business has had its share of setbacks this year. In addition to the pandemic, the recent storms knocked out the power for five days during the yellow phase.

“I think business will pick up and people will come out once they get comfortable knowing that places are following all the CDC guidelines, which of course we are,” Kriebel said.

The local economy was back to humming at Collegeville Italian Bakery Pizzeria Napoletana, 3846 Ridge Pike, Lower Providence, where customers were coming back to eat in the spacious dining room, while also expressing their fondness for the pandemic-inspired drive thru service.

“The drive-thru is a great convenience from the standpoint of a mom with kids in car seats … she doesn’t have to unstrap them and put them in a stroller. They can just pull up, we put whatever they ordered in their car and they’re gone,” noted Steve Carcarey, who owns the local icon with wife Patrizia.

“We do it every Christmas Eve and it works wonders, it really does. We’ll keep it for now, until the governor allows us to go 100 percent and then Patrizia and I will make a decision on what we want to do with it.”

In addition to the restaurant’s take-out menu items, the couple was permitted to keep the market open during the crisis.

“We have milk, bread, eggs, and we’re a manufacturer of bread. Going into a supermarket is like coming into our market,” said Carcarey, who pointed to a particular menu item’s success in recent weeks.

“Our Detroit pizza has been unbelievably successful throughout this, and the funny thing is that it’s not new, it’s been on our menu,” he said. Carcrey had learned the technique for the pan-style pizza from an expert in California and brought the recipe back to Pennsylvania.

On Friday the dining room had reopened at half capacity.

“We had our whole building professionally cleaned overnight,” Carcarey said. “There are businesses who haven’t been open for months, so we’re not complaining. We’re not greedy. We’re just thankful we’re allowed to open our dining room and let customers sit down again.”

In West Norriton, Ultimate Image Salon & Spa, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, business was brisk on Friday.

Customers were adapting well to the new procedures, noted manager Dawn Turner.

“The state has laid out some restrictive laws we need to follow. We’re only allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity. As soon as clients pull up they need to call us and we go out to them and we take their temperature and we have a consent form with various questions about COVID, have they had any symptoms within the last 14 days, have they traveled domestically via plane. We’re hoping for their honesty but there’s no way we can prove it. We’re just trying to take every precaution we can.”

Inside, clients are required to wear masks, as are the staff members.

“It’s very difficult for them, especially with the short haircuts, to keep the mask around the ear. So what we’ve done is we purchased surgical tape to tape the mask to their face. We’re trying to think of everything, but it’s crazy the things you don’t think until you’re in the thick of it. Today we were completely booked and we’ve booked for a couple weeks now. We haven’t seen our people in three months. They’ve missed us and we’ve missed them. But it’s so exciting when they come in because we know they’re going to feel so much better walking out of here. Just to look in the mirror and not see roots it just makes them feel so much better. And it makes us feel good.”

Ultimate Image is located at 2107 W. Main St., Jeffersonville.

With a large dining room at 2688 DeKalb Pike, East Norriton, Via Veneto Pizza & Family Restaurant will still be able to seat around 60 diners at half capacity, noted co-owner Joe Stabile.

“This is new for us and new for everybody. We hope customers bear with us during this. At 50 percent capacity there may be a little bit of a wait. They may have to be patient with us, especially on a Friday night. It’s first come, first served. We’re not taking any reservations and no parties over six people. We let our customers know last Friday that we were going to reopen the dining room and they were super excited about it.”

Dining will be limited to table service in the evening , while self-serve seating  is expected to continue at lunchtime.

Curbside pickup, so popular during the pandemic, will continue for now as well.

Also, a QR (Quick Response) bar code can scan the menu if a customer chooses, Stabile said.

“It brings you directly to our website and it’s a no contact way to pull up our menu from your cell phone.”

Alcohol-infused adult slushies, popularized during the pandemic as a takeout item, will still be available in flavors such as Pina colada (rum); Mango (vodka); Strawberry (tequila) and Lemon (vodka.)

Current hours are 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Monday through Thursday and 2 to 9 p.m. Sunday.

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