“I made the decision [to close] May 1.
“I hired a bankruptcy lawyer and he told me, sell off everything you can and then file. I sold my car. I’ve sold the business van.
“I was willing to do the shelter-in-place to flatten the curve and do what was needed for the country. In the beginning I think it was the only decision that was able to be made. But after that, nothing is making sense.
“As soon as they extended [the stay-at-home order] for another month, I started being able to see the writing on the wall. It was becoming real clear to me that this was not going to go very well for me. I’m a seasonal business.
“And then [I started] to hear all the things about the fact that there wouldn’t be gatherings. My business is weddings and big events and dinner theaters that hold 150 people. Being seasonal, I was closed since Dec. 21, opened for nine days on Friday and closed the next Sunday.
“I could tell that nothing was going to work for me. It wouldn’t be smart to open again [anyway] until next March. I never make money until May, so that would be 16 or more months before I would ever be not losing drastic [amounts of] money each month.
“I had direct deposits that I was holding and spending, lots of it for new brides: new tables, new chafing dishes, new things for the weddings to build up my inventory to open. So I invested that money and then couldn’t use it. I started realizing that I was going to go down very likely and take brides down with me. I couldn’t live with myself.
“I’ve sold everything to try to pay these brides back.
“The minimum wage going up to $15 was totally going to impact my business, and was impacting it. The state hasn’t been run well for many, many years. Tax dollars, no matter if they come from a flat tax or a progressive tax, taxes [are] going to go up in any way, shape or form. I personally like [the] flat tax. Everybody has to have skin in the game.
“Since I was 15 years old, I’ve been in the hospitality and tourism business. I was born and raised just five miles north of [the resort]. I’m a creator. Hospitality is in my blood, that’s my passion. I love being an impact on someone’s big day and seeing families spend time together and get to enjoy themselves.
“People’s worries would just melt away when they’d drive through the park and up to the lodge.
“I have a son and a daughter that grew up in the exact same business. Everything’s shut down. My son’s expecting his first child. They’re in the exact same boat I’m in.
“Forty-five of my employees are losing their jobs permanently. I have one waitress that’s worked for me for 28 years. I have other people that have been with me almost that long. The restaurant manager and I started the [Pines Playhouse] theater 31 years ago. They’re my family.
“This would’ve been my 32nd year.”
White Pines Resort
Mount Morris, Illinois