Seats at Skyport Diner typically filled by technicians from the Stratton Air National Guard Base were empty Wednesday.
It was the same story Tuesday — the day a partial shutdown of the federal government began, and with it the furlough of about 190 employees from the nearby base.
“I would say we had a really bad day yesterday,” said Patty Sherman, who was making meals for the handful of customers who had stopped in for lunch Wednesday at the Freemans Bridge Road restaurant.
Business was down about 50 percent Tuesday, which translated to a loss of several hundred dollars in revenue, she estimated.
Restaurants regularly patronized by workers with the Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing have not all seen a loss of business due to the furloughs, but employees at several eating establishments voiced concern about the potential for lost business should the government shutdown drag on.
At the Subway sandwich shop on Freemans Bridge Road, business was off to a slow start Wednesday, according to an employee, but right before noon, four Guard members were part of the modest lunchtime crowd.
According to Eric Durr, spokesman for the state Division of Military and Naval Affairs, there are approximately 340 active, full-time Guard and Reserve members still on duty at the base in Glenville.
Sgt. Kevin Byrns, who was eating lunch at Subway on Wednesday, is one of them. He compared the base to a ghost town, with more than half the workforce on furlough.
“It’s definitely hurting our effectiveness to get stuff done on time,” he said. “We’re picking up the slack for everyone who is furloughed.”
Although he is still on the job, he’s not sure when he’ll get a paycheck, he noted.
Morale is low at the base, added senior Airman Joe Paludi, who was also eating at Subway.
Glenville town Supervisor Chris Koetzle expressed concern for the furloughed reservists and their families and also for local businesses.
“There’s very few places you can go in this town without seeing those reservists doing business with our businesses, and obviously this is going to have an impact, and we’re a little bit concerned about it,” he said. “Going into the holiday season — people start thinking about the holidays around October already — we’re concerned what kind of impact that’s going to have on the local businesses if this drags out.”
Employees at Glenville restaurants, including Carm’s on Freemans Bridge Road and Manhattan Bagel, Ruggerio’s, the Glenville Queen Diner and Wendy’s on Route 50, said they had not noticed a downswing in business because of the furloughs at the base, but workers weren’t confident that trend would continue.
“I’m not sure what will happen in the long run. A lot of [Guard employees] do come in and patronize the place,” said Daniel Juarez, manager of the Glenville Queen.
Cathy Puglisi, owner of Carm’s, has seen a good number of employees from the base come through the doors over the past few days.
“But we’ll see in the days ahead,” she said.
Durr said Guard members are still planning to carry out drills at Stratton this weekend.
“We are just waiting to find out what happens, because currently there is no funding for weekend drills for members of the National Guard,” he said.
The Division of Military and Naval Affairs is making some resources available to help furloughed Guard employees, Durr noted. Financial counselors are on hand, and employees’ health and life insurance policies will remain active. Up-to-date information is posted on the division’s website at http://dmna.ny.gov.