After being closed to the public for three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an iconic Grand Island business has fully reopened to the public.
Skate Island, 2310 N. Webb Road, reopened its miniature golf course on Memorial Day weekend, while its skating rink reopened June 19, owner Steve Anderson said.
Despite a rough start, he said, Skate Island “had a pretty good weekend” last weekend with the business open for both miniature golf and skating.
“We are really going to reopen slowly,” Anderson said. “I’ve been allowed to have the miniature golf course open since Memorial Day weekend. But the weather has been so extreme with rain and two weeks of 95-degree temperatures every day and 30 mph winds, which is not conducive to what we are offering to the public. So we had a terrible start over there.”
In its 51-year history, Anderson said, Skate Island had never been closed for an extended period of time, with the exception of 2-1/2 days after the June 3, 1980, tornadoes due to lack of electricity. This year’s 90-day closure was the longest time the skating rink had been closed.
Skate Island said in a March 22 Facebook post that that weekend was the first in more than 50 years the business was silent.
“Man, 90 days was a back-breaker,” Anderson said. “I have been really fortunate to hang on to my employees. I only have nine total, including two full-timers. It is scary and we are not out of the woods just yet. I just hope that somehow, some way, that we can survive the long haul. But this will be a real test.”
He said he and his staff were “ecstatic” when the business reopened. He said there was a lot of excitement during the first weekend Skate Island reopened as there were a handful of people who came out to skate and/or play miniature golf.
“I was stunned,” Anderson said of the attendance. “I think people got to a point where cabin fever started to step in. I certainly (appreciate) the support that our local community gave us with no advertising and strictly word of mouth. We wanted to keep it low-key, so we didn’t even put anything on our big sign/marquee out front along Webb Road.”
Skate Island was open this past week from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday for skating. Miniature golf and the game room are open this week from noon to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. The times are subject to change, so those wanting to visit are advised to check the Skate Island Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SKATE-ISLAND-173197972095, or call (308) 382-8270.
“We are starting this (last) week from 2 to 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, just to test the waters to see what kind of interest and potential we have to make it work,” Anderson said.
“Normally, with our summer schedule, we would be open Wednesday through Saturday in the afternoons. We really cut back on roller skating, but we are open morning, noon and night with the miniature golf course. We are just going to play it a week at a time.”
When customers visit Skate Island, Anderson said, there are a number of COVID-19 precautions in place. Signs are placed around the building and stickers are on the floor to remind patrons to keep a 6-foot social distance. Masks are optional for customers.
“We have 6-foot social distancing signs from the time you come into the front door, to the lobby, to the skate counter and to the concession stand,” he said. “We use every other table in the concession area.”
With rental skates, Anderson said, Skate Island is continuing to do what it has always done by disinfecting skates before it rents them. Beginners can rent three-wheel walkers that are also disinfected before and after each use.
He said skating looks a little different. No interactive games are being held on the rink during skating hours, as is usually the case.
“It is basically just skating in two lanes in one direction,” Anderson said. “We try to close off the middle of the skate floor to keep everybody to the outside in what we call the ‘black traffic line.’ We might turn them around and have them go the other direction, but it is pretty basic at this point.”
In light of the pandemic, he said he hopes customers will continue to visit Skate Island.
“We are one of the last wholesome family atmosphere things that are still out there,” Anderson said. “We do not sell alcohol. We are a family-run, family-friendly business; you can’t say that about many other places anymore.”