Businesses on the rebound; Some have moved, others still in recovery process following riots

In the chaos and riot-driven destruction on the nights following the shooting of Jacob Blake, damage to commercial and government property from Downtown to Uptown Kenosha was unquestionably extensive.

According to the latest data provided by Heather Wessling for the Kenosha Area Business Alliance, about 80 businesses were affected; 30 to 40 of which were totaled, leveled or severely damaged.

Relying on insurance, microloans from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and donations, some have relocated and reopened. Others are still in transition or went out of business for good.

The following are recaps and updates for three businesses that have or are in the process of moving beyond the riots.

B & L Furniture

“The fires burned everything; burned it all.”

This was what happened to B & L Furniture on the second night of riots and violence.

Desks, chairs, bookcases and lamps were gone in what seemed like an instant after vandals torched the furniture store at 1101 60th St., while others did the same to the nearby Department of Corrections Probation and Parole Office.

Re-living the night of the fires recently, store manager Scott Carpenter shared a photo of three people who had broken into the store starting the blaze by setting fire to a chair.

The next day, Carpenter drove to the site of the former store, by then reduced to a pile of bricks, glass and burned and melted furniture. “It was still smoldering and there was smoke — it was so hard, so hard,” he said.

But with customer orders pending at the time of the fire, the owners had no choice but to move swiftly into new quarters. In October, the furniture store which had been in business for the past 42 years, moved operations to 7600 75th St., in the Kenosha Trade Park. “(Since re-opening) it’s been a growing process. We are doing well and making it work. The hardest part is trying to get people to know where we’re at.”

While signage is prominent, the store is located on a side road north of Highway 50, making it easy to drive right by it.

Space is also a challenge, he said. “We went from 10,000 square feet to 4,000.”

On the upside, Carpenter spoke of the outpouring of support from the community and assistance from B & L’s longtime business vendors. “Our vendors really stepped up to extend terms and help get our (new) showroom set up.”

To reopen and relocate B & L utilized insurance funds along with a microloan awarded by WEDC. “One dollar at a time adds up,” Carpenter said.

Uptown Restaurant

Yolanda Hernandez describes the poster found in the ashes of Uptown Restaurant following the fire that destroyed it on the night of Aug. 24.

Also rising like a Phoenix from the ashes is Uptown Restaurant.

Formerly located at 6134 22nd Ave., the restaurant, featuring Mexican and American food, was burned out along with most of the businesses in its block during the night of Aug. 24.

On July 28 the restaurant re-opened at 4003 75th St., at the former Hungry Head sandwich shop site, in part utilizing a microloan through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

While most everything inside the original restaurant was a loss, Yolanda Hernandez was able to rescue a large framed poster displaying images of Uptown storefronts through the history of the area. “We found this when we dug through the ashes,” she said

The new restaurant is temporary until one can be built in a residential-business development planned for 63rd Street and 23rd Avenue, she said.

Plans to re-open in February were delayed by problems with a building contractor and challenges of acquiring supplies and appliances in the current market, she said.

They have expanded the menu to include more Mexican dishes and extended hours from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. to 7 p.m.

A couple weeks before reopening, Hernandez was upbeat about the relocation of her six year-old business.

“It was very, very sad but something exciting is coming,” she said.

Read more at the Kenosha News.

Go Back