Gardiner business owners ready for summer tourism

Local businesses that dealt with closures all summer and continue to be closed through the winter season are optimistic but fearful of what is to come this summer.

“I’ve run restaurants for 14 years without anything happening, and all of a sudden it’s one thing after another,” said Sharon Gilbert, owner of Cinnabear Bakery.

Gilbert had just finished his renovations at Cinnabear Bakery in Gardiner last year when things took a turn in June.

“We had just gotten into a good routine and the flooding happened,” Gilbert said.

Like many of the businesses in Gardiner that rely on summer tourism, the season ended abruptly.

“We didn’t even have a chance to make any money,” Gilbert said.

As Gilbert looks out over the same river that caused her business to close, she says she counts herself lucky to stay afloat while her business remains closed.

“My husband still has his job, but it’s like I haven’t been paid this year,” Gilbert said.

Across the river, Rebecca Stoneberger quickly fills coffee cups with shots of espresso. Bears Brew Owner is one of the few businesses open during the winter season.

“Stressful. So I had to get really creative in what I was doing,” Stoneberger said.

She makes one cup at a time for the locals whom she greets by first name.

“To really serve everyone in our community. That’s from locals to high school students to tourists,” Stoneberger said.

The countdown is on to summer, but after Covid, a fire and flood in the last three years, they’re optimistic but holding their breath.

“I’m a little scared that as long as we open we have our employees and we don’t have a natural disaster, or something that happens to us again. I really feel like we’re going to have an amazing summer,” Gilbert said.

Meanwhile, Rebecca hopes that people will walk and drive through the park.

“I am also ready for the tourists that are going to come. I feel that the tourist activity is more at the end of the week. But nothing is guaranteed. So we’re all taking it one day at a time,” Stoneberger said.