‘We need our city to have our back’: Java Vino owner says La Crosse road project comes with little warning

Road work on Jackson Street and State Road will impact access to several businesses in La Crosse
Java Vino Challenge

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – The pandemic has been a huge hurdle for La Crosse business owners, but now some businesses on State Road are up against a literal roadblock. The project hasn’t even started yet.

The economic rhythm on city streets used to be music to every business owner’s ears.

“Things were rocking and rolling at Java Vino you know every year’s been a little bit more growth,” Tina Schumaker said, the owner of Java Vino. “We’ve continued to expand our offering.”

That beat has slowed its tempo for Schumaker.

“Business owners are very tired,” Schumaker said.

She is one of many people affected by the countless millions of dollars bleeding out of the economy due to Covid-19.

“Unless you are a small business owner you have no idea what that’s like,” Schumaker said.

Now, add the news she received Thursday.

“Someone from the city stopped down here and let us know that effective Monday they’re gonna be doing some work,” she said.

Water main work from Losey to West Avenue will shut down nearly every entryway to Java Vino.

“…for four weeks. In addition to that, we are gonna have one day next week where we won’t have water,” Schumaker said. “Which doesn’t allow us to run our business at all without water.”

She said this isn’t the first time unexpected roadwork impacted her business.  Two years ago a Wisconsin Department of Transportation project shut down roads around the same intersection, and her employees couldn’t figure out how to get to work.

“The fact that this is not the first time this has happened is incredibly infuriating,” Schumaker said.

Schumaker loves La Crosse and the people she serves. She understands roads need repairs, but she said her business needed a heads up.

“We literally don’t know,” she said. “You come into work every day and your staff has no idea what they’re going to walk into.”

This pandemic killed her entrepreneurial momentum.

“We were completely shut down for six weeks and it completely drained our savings account which we use for things like paying property taxes,” Schumaker said.

She said a lack of communication may kill the place many people go to grab a cup of joe.

“The walls just keep closing in and in and in,” Schumaker said. “And literally, we need our city to have our back, We need our city to want Java Vino to stay here.”

Construction is expected to run until Sept. 25. La Crosse street department leaders were not available Friday to comment on the story.