Joe’s Emporium in Mt. Rainier, Md. (Shevry Lassiter/The Washington Informer)
Joe’s Emporium in Mt. Rainier, Md. (Shevry Lassiter/The Washington Informer)

Although businesses in Prince George’s County are allowed for more patrons to frequent its establishments, it will take some time to regain its usual clientele.

Joe’s Movement Emporium, a performing arts studio in Mount Rainier, has set “safety” as its main priority.

So far this year, Joe’s hosted about a dozen virtual events that included a livestream presentation Sunday, March 28 to celebrate the life of Thelma Roane Boyd-Nash, an educator, poet and activist who resided in Cheverly and died at the age of 96.

“Because we always make sure we do six feet apart, a lot of our spaces aren’t as huge as our theater space,” said Jeniffer Leon, a theater production coordinator at Joe’s. “We will probably be that way until the six-feet rule is no more.”

The studio with 22 employees endured two workers who contracted COVID-19 that included Leon’s diagnosis around the Thanksgiving holiday. However, both came from contacts outside Joe’s.

To keep things afloat, Joe’s rents spaces for local artists to rehearse, conduct visual demonstrations and other performances.

The studio held an outdoor series of performances on Saturdays from August to October in its parking lot. Another series will take place this year starting in May until October.

An event called “Black on the Block” will feature in-person and virtual yoga and arts programming the weekend of April 23 at Joe’s and its sister location, Creative Suitland Arts Center.

Because Joe’s became recognized as a center that provides after care for children, all staff could be vaccinated.

Its popular summer arts education program will begin June 21 for those ages 5 to 13 at A note in bold type highlights the classes will be in small groups, masks must be worn and social distancing “will be incorporated as a general practice.”

The 10-week program will feature a different theme each week through Sept. 3.

Since Noni Ford arrived at Joe’s in September, most of her work as program coordinator “has been typing on my laptop all day and that’s not the nature of Joe’s. We will start transitioning [to conduct more in-person events] once it’s safe to do so.”

About 15 minutes away in College Park, the Board and Brew restaurant experienced a decrease in staff.

Michael Chmar, a partner in the business situated in College Park for more than six years, said pre-pandemic up to 25 employees worked there. Today, it’s about 10.

Although the state allowed businesses to increase capacity by 50 percent, Chmar said a spike will not happen overnight.

“People are not in the same economic position as they were beforehand,” he said. “People’s routines are different and buying habits are different, especially doing everything virtually and working from home. It’s going to be a gradual process.”

However, if patrons decide to venture out in College Park, the restaurant offers an Oreo latte with oat milk and expresso.

“It’s to die for. It’s insane,” he said. “I think there are a lot of things that can be fun, but they have to be grounded on good technique. I think we do a good job of that. It’s been a learning experience. Who’s been through a pandemic? Not I.”

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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