A growing line of patrons craving frozen yogurt formed inside of Chilly Fillmore’s, the sweet spot across from campus. The business posted on social media that due to the current “health scare,” the establishment would be closing for an indefinite amount of time but giving away free yogurt until they ran out that day. The next day, Governor Greg Abbott announced executive orders regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

Every person should avoid groups of more than 10 people, avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts, or visiting gyms or massage parlors, however, the use of drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options is allowed and highly encouraged. People shall not visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance and schools shall temporarily close, according to Gov. Abbott’s announcement, which paralleled other state governors’ executive orders.

Brian Donlinger, owner of Chilly Fillmore’s, opened the store almost nine years ago and employs several SFA students. Donlinger “saw the writing on the wall” and drove from Dallas to Nacogdoches to close up shop.

“You have no playbook on how to handle this scenario. In my lifetime this has never happened before. You just try to make the best decision you can,” Donlinger said. “At the time, I didn’t want to put anybody in harm’s way. You do your best to make the best decision you can, close up… I wanted people to get one last treat before we close up, and why not just give it away? People deserve to get a little sweetness in their life before having to self-quarantine.”

Since classes have been moved to online only for the rest of the semester and other precautions have been put in place, some students have either lost their jobs or have been given time off until further notice.

However, greeting guests strolling through the door of Chilly Fillmore’s was Maiya Williams, Chilly Fillmore’s employee and junior music education major from Hutto. Williams welcomed customers wanting free frozen yogurt with a smile, seemingly calm in a packed room. Upbeat music filled the shop, turned up a bit louder than usual. Williams had received an email saying the shop was closing down.

“I enjoyed coming to work and getting to interact with members of the SFA and Nacogdoches community alike,” Williams said. “It supported my love of serving others and that's just one more thing I got to do working there.”

Other places like bars, dance halls and other hangouts for students have shut down in the wake of the Coronavirus, including Frogs/Lumberyard and Banita Creek Hall.

In response to COVID-19, the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce website now has a page dedicated to assisting Nacogdoches businesses with the Coronavirus Business Resource Guide. The website also hosts a page with information as to what restaurants are open, doing curbside pickup and delivery.

According to Donlinger, Chilly Fillmore’s rarely shut down. And when it did close after a car crash that interfered with an electricity pole, the issue was resolved quickly. Donlinger suspects the shop will be closed this time for months.

“That’s the weird thing about it right now, right? You have no idea how long you’re going to be closed for. When the electricity went out, the utility workers were working on it right away and we got electricity restored in a couple days and we were back up and running,” Donlinger said.

Some businesses are still open amid the Coronavirus worry. For an updated list visit the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce website here.

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