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Stumpy’s Hatchet House, a brick-and-mortar indoor entertainment venue in Green Brook that its owner calls the No. 1 hatch-throwing venue in the nation, had to pay more than $80,000 in rent over a five-month period when it had zero revenue because of COVID-19 related closures. 

“As entrepreneurs we take risks, but no one expected the world to shut down,” Stumpy’s owner Monica Martinez Milian said during the New Jersey Business Coalition’s recent virtual town hall meeting on the impact COVID-19 has had on small businesses. 

Since opening in 2018,  Stumpy’s had steadily grown into a successful business offering families and corporate clients a place to relieve stress, bond and team-build. At the start of 2020, Stumpy’s revenue projections were on track to be the highest yet, but then the pandemic hit the state and all non-essential New Jersey businesses were ordered to close. 

“Our business was severely impacted because we returned all our reservation deposits – we cancelled everything,” Milan said. “We were closed for five months.” 

Milan said her landlord still demanded that the rent of more than $15,000 a month be paid in full, even though her business was unable to open. Her family had to use its personal savings – money that had been set aside for her two children’s education – to pay the $80,000 owed to the landlord, she said. 

“Businesses are on the line with rent (owed) to their landlords and there are thousands of us facing that reality,” Milan said. “Some businesses can’t even reopen due to the fact that they cannot catch up. 

Milan asked the legislators and policymakers who also participated in the online town hall to help small business owners with grants to help them survive no matter where they are located. 

“Even if it helps to cover and offset 50% of the rents directly payable to the landlord, it is more than what we have received to date,” Milan said. “We’re looking for some solutions.” 

More than 150 people attended the New Jersey Business Coalition’s “State of New Jersey Business” Town Hall on Jan. 11. The event provided an opportunity for business owners and coalition members to discuss the current and future needs of the business community. To hear Milan’s entire remarks, go here.