Denton Businesses During the Pandemic


Denton residents gather on the square for the Arts and Autos festival on September 20, 2019.

As anyone who has spent time here would know, it is a quirky, lively, and unique place with a strong sense of individuality and an even stronger sense of community. Everything from our iconic hotspots to our yearly events and celebrations, Denton is bursting with flavor and character. 

Other than all of it’s glorious nuances, Denton is known for locals. People who have lived here their entire lives, or ventured off for just long enough to know they needed to come back. Dentonites know how essential this not-so-little-anymore town is to who they are.

Due to the recent state of the pandemic, the people, and places that have built Denton into the vibrant community that it is, are struggling. Maintaining a local business that depends on customers coming in to shop and hang out in person, during a time when going out in person is one of the last things we should be doing, is obviously a challenge. 

These small businesses who bring all of the life and personality to our city, are struggling to make ends meet, and while they have done a good job adapting to these new circumstances, they still need our support to stay afloat.

Some of the most notable and important parts of Denton’s small business community, are the one-of-a-kind restaurants that are owned and operated by Denton’s local families and businesses. There is a huge variety of food in Denton. In the square alone there is pizza, burgers, Asian cuisine, seafood, Tex-Mex, breakfast/brunch food, the after dinner sweet treat shops, coffee bars, and much more. However, when people think of local restaurants, they are always thinking about where they want to sit down and enjoy the experience, as well as the food. Much of the charm of these restaurants isn’t only the food, but also the atmosphere, and the proximity to other places around the city. These restaurants thrive off of people dining in, but when staying home is the safest thing to do, due to the virus, they don’t often think of local businesses when ordering take-out or delivery. 

One of Denton’s most popular and beloved restaurants is the Chestnut Tree Bistro and Market. This is a small place on the square, and for decades, people have been stopping by for the delicious brunch menu and the relaxing and enjoyable atmosphere. However, due to the new obstacles and issues presented by COVID-19, Chestnut Tree has been forced to stop in-person dining, and convert completely to catering, pickup and delivery. 

Although these changes have completely flipped Chestnut Tree’s day-to-day clientele, “We’ve all adapted pretty well,” sophomore and Chestnut Tree waiter Amoren Newton said. “We were definitely ahead of the curve in the beginning, so that helped.” 

However, despite their early reaction to the pandemic, Chestnut Tree is still facing the daily challenge of being on customers’ minds., “Since people can’t come in directly, sometimes they don’t think of us.” 

We need to help our local restaurants stay alive, despite not being able to dine in person like normal. 

Maintaining a local business during a pandemic is clearly very difficult, and the only thing that would be more difficult, is starting one. 

Attempting to attract customers, advertise your merchandise, and create a name for yourself in an area where every other place is pretty much a staple in the culture of the city, seems unattainable. 

For Ashley Strahan, owner of 3 Wishes, an up-and-coming gift shop housed right on the square, the pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time.“We started the business in the middle of the pandemic so we were anticipating some slow traffic and difficulties in the beginning.  The obstacles have been state and local mandates lowering foot traffic in the square.  However, foot traffic is starting to increase.” As a local business in a typically busy area, starting out with barely anyone to walking around and stopping by is obviously quite an inconvenience, and it is very hard to get people’s attention without them coming to the square in person. Strahan said that, “The hardest thing has been to get people to know about the store.  Facebook marketing has seemed to be somewhat effective.” But now that foot traffic in the square has started building up, 3 Wishes has been able to get back on its feet, and is now a charming and exciting edition to our community.

Many small businesses have had to find creative ways to get information out, such as using online services such like Facebook Marketplace. So, as patrons to our local businesses, we need to make sure that we are supporting them by trying to stay active and informed from home. Make sure to try and follow your favorite businesses on social media, and if you would really like to stay informed about how our small business community is doing, be sure to check out to stay up to date on all events and announcements involving our local businesses.

One of the most damaging changes that the Coronavirus pandemic has brought to Denton’s culture, are the alterations and changes to the various celebrations and events in the Denton area. 

The celebrations that allow the Denton community to come together and enjoy the best this town has to offer, such as 4th of July Parade, the Denton Community Markets, the Arts and Autos Festival, Oaktoberfest, the Day of the Dead Festival, etc. were either cancelled in their entirety or flipped into a “pandemic-proof” gathering.  

These events are extremely important to the city. They are a time when people can come together and celebrate, discover new places and things, and explore the city. These local celebrations are often sponsored by the local businesses of Denton, and it is a great opportunity for them to get recognition for their work. 

Probably the most well known and important event that Denton is missing this year, is the annual Day of the Dead Festival. The performances, art, food, parades, vendors, and the legendary coffin races, make this celebration a vital part of Denton’s local culture, and all of this comes from the hard work and dedication of our local businesses. 

However, the Day of the Dead Festival, and several other events have been cancelled this year due to the social distancing and sanitizing precautions and guidelines that are being taken to accommodate for the virus.

There are still a few events that are still on track, such as the Arts and Autos festival, but according to the community website, Discover Denton, the only way to make sure these events can take place is for people to respect and adhere to the new rules and safety regulations. 

We all need to stay safe, especially during these upcoming events. There are going to be a lot of changes to how these  gatherings will run, and the local businesses that sponsor them are asking people to respect these changes to maintain the safety of everyone involved. If we want to preserve these events, and our local businesses along with them, we are all going to have to come together and do our best to make sure they can run smoothly and safely. 

Obviously, it is important to keep these businesses and people well and maintain the culture of our community, but the best way to do that is to be aware of the challenges that they are facing. Keeping a business alive with all of these new guidelines and regulations may be necessary, but it is definitely not easy.

All we have to do is make sure that we are keeping our community in mind. Remember that you can pick up food from local restaurants, you can make sure to support new businesses by spreading the word about them, and exploring them yourself, and you can help preserve Denton’s culture by keeping these events alive and safe. This community of small businesses has made the city a fun, unique, and exciting place, and now is the time to “pay it forward” to  them for all of their hard work by supporting them through these unprecedented times.