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Customers rush to Erie County businesses forced to close Friday

A salon owner in Williamsville extended her hours Thursday so that she could meet the demand before Orange Zone rules began.

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. — High-risk, non-essential businesses will be forced to close their doors Friday in parts of Western New York deemed "orange zones."

Now several people are rushing to those businesses to get everything from a haircut to even eat at their favorite restaurant indoors one last time. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the announcement about parts of Western New York entering an Orange Zone on Wednesday.

Jennifer Giambra and her husband, Michael, own Michael the Salon in Williamsville. Jennifer says the rush is so crazy, her phone was ringing nonstop before Cuomo even finished that news conference.

"It rang right up until 11, and then it started up again at 6:30 this morning, so it's been ringing nonstop," she said. 

The salon extended its hours from 8:30 a.m. through 11 or 11:30 p.m. on Thursday. 

Jennifer says the salon has not had a single case of COVID-19, which is why she only expected a few more restrictions from the governor at the most. 

"We've really been doing well and thinking that everything has been going well so this is a shock," Giambra said. 

There's also a rush over at restaurants such as the Grill at the Dome over in Tonawanda. 

Owner Josh Edholm says they will completely close for the time being, though restaurants are allowed to have people eat outside, or they will have to go back to pickup or takeout only.

"We're more of a destination place than a takeout place, so for us the amount of work we'd have to do to break even, it just wouldn't make sense. We'd dig our hole deeper so we're just going to hold on for dear life and go from there," Edholm said. 

That means customers like Fred and Lori will have to wait to return. 

They've been regulars for more than 15 years, and because Lori has dementia, Edholm says the couple comes in all the time because it's where Lori feels the most comfortable. 

"We have a very warm group. My staff helps people feel that way, and they are part of my family so closing the doors for me, is not a very easy decision," Edholm said. 

Giambra says though she doesn't want anyone to get sick, the state needs to figure out how to help small businesses so they don't have to keep shutting down. 

"We have to find that balance because we don't want to see our successful, thriving businesses disappear," Giambra said.