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MARY MEAUX — Owners, community say goodbye to Gather: Paleo Café & Market

The novel coronavirus has taken its toll on small businesses leading to staffing issues for some and for others, like Gather: Paleo Café & Market, impending closure.

The Port Neches eatery has been around for more than 4½ years as sisters Chrystal Lundy and Jodi Hebert shared their knowledge of a healthy lifestyle free of processed foods, refined sugars and grains while embracing traditional eating of pasture-raised animals, fish, fresh fruit and vegetables.

Their gluten free and keto friendly menu brought in fans that followed them to a newer, larger location on Port Neches Avenue, which they settled in in October.

Then along came COVID-19.

Days ago Lundy took to Facebook with the sad news that Aug. 15 would be their last day of operation and it will be a brunch.

Lundy announced the sad news while explaining the reason and giving thanks to the community who supported them.

You have the small businesses whose owners are the moms with kids in Little League and bring their kids to work when they’re sick and family and friends pitch in to help the small business owner.

“Small businesses are the dreams of many, and are the backbones of communities,” Lundy wrote. “Small businesses need absolute and regular support. And it’s hard to do that when the community of your friends and family that you’re surrounded by is suffering as well. This pandemic has been a vicious cycle that proves the sheer fact that we can’t do this without you, and we also can’t expect you to do this if you’re in a tight spot as well. When communities hurt, we all suffer. And that’s the case right now.”

The news from the little eatery known for its healthy food and fun atmosphere was received with sadness. Diane Lapoint, director of the B.A. Ritter Senior Citizen Center in Nederland, said online that it has been a blessing to know the folks at Gather, adding their bone broth brought her through asthma many times.

Tyler Blount, small businessman and co-owner of Neches Brewing Company in Port Neches, offered words of comfort, saying he knows how hard they work every single day.

He told them to keep their “head up; there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.”

A woman chimed in saying how much Gather would be missed and she may never be able to eat out again as no other eating establishment provides food that is acceptable for her health condition.

The U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy explained in a Jan. 30, 2019, article, the importance of small businesses, saying they are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy, creating two-thirds of net new jobs and drive U.S. innovation and competitiveness.

We are all in difficult times. Paychecks are being stretched, and some people are out of work as COVID-19-related restrictions put the pinch on the pocketbook. But for those who have the means, go out and support your small businesses. If you choose to grab a bite to eat at Gather, say hello to “the girls.”

Mary Meaux is a news reporter with Port Arthur Newsmedia. She can be reached at mary.meaux@panews.com.