Community rallies around Iowa small business threatened by COVID-19

Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 2:17 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A small business owner in Logan, Iowa is thanking her community for their support after she announced she’d be closing down the Cornerstone Cafe.

Missy Lynn Rowe used to work in the hotel and hospitality industry but she always wanted to own her own business.

She says it was a dream come at the end of March when she opened the Cornerstone Cafe and started serving up home-cooked, southern comfort food. The decor inside is a mix of her and her husband’s tastes, styles, and interests. In fact, the two used to go on dates at the restaurant that previously occupied the space.

“We brought it back to life. It’s so warm and inviting and cozy. We want it to feel like grandma and grandpa’s house."

Unfortunately, Missy’s dream come true took a left turn right off the bat when COVID-19 forced restaurants across Iowa to halt dine-in service.

“I changed my business model in 3 days," said Missy. "We went to takeout and curbside because there was no way I wasn’t going to open.”

Over the next several months, Cornerstone Cafe closed down a few times over COVID concerns. Aside from the pandemic, nearby road construction and the harvest season slowed business down, too.

“My bank account was tapped – I couldn’t even buy food," she said. “I didn’t want the pressure of going into debt in our economy right now. So, I was like I’m going to close the doors."

She posted on the Cornerstone Cafe Facebook page that she’d planned to close for good, and almost immediately the community showed its love for the small business.

“I got like hundreds of messages, so many people calling me, messaging me with people saying you’re not quitting,” Missy said, as she wiped tears from her eyes. “For a whole community that I just moved into a year and a half ago, to come and say ‘we’re here for you.’ I didn’t know it existed.”

Missy says a local couple offered to finance the business for the next month.

So after being closed Wednesday, Missy flipped on the open sign Thursday morning and cooked up breakfast for her loyal customers.

“I think God gave me the ability to feed people and bring them together and now they’re here for me, I’m so grateful,” said Missy.

“It warms my heart because that’s why we live in small towns,” said Hannah Cox, who works alongside Missy at the cafe. "When someone is down, we pick them up and help build them up.”

And Missy has done her part in that department.

“Everything I bought for the cafe has been local, from the hardware store to the antique store, to the grocery store. It’s all local,” said Missy.

While it hasn’t been the smoothest road, Missy says she has no regrets and keeps a positive outlook for the future of her small business. She hopes to keep the business open in the small town of Logan and turn a profit in 2021.

Missy says she was also advised to apply for small business grants from Harrison County. She has a meeting scheduled for next week.

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