Last March, nobody knew the COVID-19 pandemic was about to change everything. Within a month, businesses closed and people were staying home more than ever.
Kirksville’s DuKum Inn was one local business affected by the pandemic. On Saint Patrick’s Day in 2020, owner Craig Shorten and his daughter Chade Shorten were forced to close their doors as a result of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and increasing coronavirus cases in Kirksville. Almost a full year later, the DuKum Inn has finally reopened for in-person business.
During the almost year-long in-person closure, DuKum was offering takeout service from a limited menu. It was also taking this time to renovate the building and improve it.
Chade said even though closing was far from easy, she was happy she got to spend more time with her family.
“I think we were in a lucky spot where we get to work together as father and daughter,” Chade said. “Last year wasn’t easy on anyone, and it definitely wasn’t easy on us. But I really enjoyed being able to work with my family.”
Chade said the DuKum Inn installed several new safety measures during the renovations. These include touchless urinals and toilets, touchless soap dispensers and touchless hand sanitizer dispensers placed around the restaurant.
After reopening, several things remain different around the restaurant. Occupancy has been reduced to allow for social distancing among groups and the business is not operating with a full staff at the moment.
Craig and Chade said they are slowly reopening to make sure they do it right.
“We’re not fully operational yet,” Craig said. “We’ve just been taking bites of it at a time. We’re not fully staffed, the kitchen isn’t 100% yet, we have a limited menu, bar hours are reduced. We’re at a point where we would rather not do something than do it and not do it right.”
The current hours of operation for DuKum are Wednesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. The kitchen is open from 5-9 p.m. The limited kitchen menu currently includes chicken strips, tenderloin and DuKum’s “Second Best Burger.”
Craig also owns WrongDaddy’s, a local nightclub and bar. This business also recently reopened with many of the same COVID-19 precautions as DuKum.
WrongDaddy’s is not open every weekend but has been successful when it has been open. WrongDaddy’s is operating on a reduced schedule of Friday 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. and Saturday 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
Like DuKum, WrongDaddy’s requires customers to wear a mask when entering and going up to the bar.
Craig and Chade said there have not been any major challenges with reopening either location.
“People ask: ‘have we had any issues with people not wearing masks?’” Chade said. “Honestly, everyone has been really kind and understanding. I have not had any issues like that.”
Craig and Chade have no specific timeline on when things will be back to “normal” at either location. They said they do not want to rush anything and want to make sure all their customers can come to a safe environment. Craig said they will continue doing business unusually, but they are okay with that.
Craig said he thinks the future is looking positive for the DuKum Inn. He thinks if they get through the next six weeks without a regional or national COVID-19 outbreak, they will be in a more comfortable position.
“We wouldn’t be afraid to close the doors again if we absolutely thought it was the right thing to do,” Craig said.