Townsend business on shutdown: 'We all should be reimbursed'

The House of Representatives vote to end the government shutdown means the Great Smoky Mountain National Park will be able to reopen for good.

Furloughed workers and anxious visitors got a preview Wednesday when the gates opened on the state and local government's dime.

"It was full of anxiety," said co-owner of Burgermaster in Townsend, Bob Hurst. "We're tickled pink that's its open."

"We've had almost record sales for this day of the week so it helped out a lot," said co-owner of 3 Lil' Pigs Smokepit in Townsend, James Latham.

But for the past two weeks, it was far from busy for Latham.

"It cut our business in half. Weekends were dead. Completely dead. You might see a car go by every 15 minutes," he said.

It made it even more difficult for Burgermaster's owners to know it was their government causing them to lose customers.

"It was disheartening and disappointing to know that your business is affected by something beyond our control. It wasn't like a natural disaster. It was something that we thought was unnecessary and could have been handled differently," said Hurst.

This hit during their peak month of the fall season is income they cannot ever get back.

Unlike the 800,000 furloughed government employees who will receive back pay, these Townsend businesses will not. Latham said he wants the government to consider helping out affected businesses as well.

"It's a loss to us that we're not responsible for. We all should be reimbursed for that," said Latham.

While they are grateful to have their business back, the anxiety hasn't gone away completely.

"I'd like to see them settle this for a while so we don't have to go through this again," said Hurst. "Right now everybody around here still feels a little apprehensive about if and when it would happen again."


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