Despite having to close up shop for a few months due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, a Gloucester business geared towards creating collaborative workspace is not only open — it has created a second location.
Wheelhouse Cowork, 189 Main St., Suite 3, is scheduled to open in early November a second location at 33 Commercial St., formerly the home of the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce.
"It is a very exciting time for us here at Wheelhouse," said Nate Cahill, founder of Wheelhouse Cowork, which opened its doors in the early months of 2019.
Once its new space is open, the two locations will be known as Wheelhouse Main, on Main Street, and Wheelhouse Harborside, on Commercial Street.
"These two locations will be really great," Cahill said. "We are going to book-end Main Street with our own location on Main Street and the other location at 33 Commercial St. on the second floor right where the (Cape Ann) Chamber used to live."
In addition to views of the city and ocean, Wheelhouse Harborside will offer members 3,000 square feet of office space with a sound-proof meeting room, a shower and three taps to pour beer, kombucha, and cold-brew coffee.
"It is going to be the best office space on the North Shore," Cahill said.
Members of both Wheelhouse's Main and Harborside will be able to utilize the amenities found at both locations.
Creating connection during a time of distance
The road to creating collaborative space has not been easy these past couple of months, Cahill said.
"As a small business this has been ... wow. It has been a wild year," Cahill said. "And like everyone else, we had that existential crisis of are we going to make it through COVID."
"Those were some long sleepless nights," he noted.
But as small businesses began to question their longevity due to the pandemic, Wheelhouse's dedicated members made it possible for Cahill to keep his doors open and chairs filled.
"Our members were extraordinarily loyal," Cahill said. "They stuck with me even when we were closed down and that was incredible."
The commitment Cahill saw from his members inspired him to change the way he approached persevering during the pandemic.
"It really changed my way of thinking, from how am I going to survive to how might we thrive and be a part of this recovery," he explained.
When Wheelhouse reopened the Main Street collaborative workspace, Cahill put up new policies and procedures to ensure that everyone that used the space could indeed thrive.
This includes eliminating shared snacks, requiring masks when walking through the shared space, maintaining social distancing, limiting occupancy in each room, increasing ventilation throughout the building, putting in new hand-sanitizing stations, and hiring professional cleaners to come regularly to sanitize the entire facility.
Wheelhouse has also installed plexiglass between work stations and removed chairs to ensure maximum social distancing is achieved within the space.
With these new protocols in place and a membership that is now almost at capacity, Cahill's long-time dream to open a second location was quickly on the fast track to become a reality.
"I feel an obligation to my business, yes. But also to my community, by opening up another location and bringing another 30 people downtown that might not normally come to this environment," " Cahill said. "This is a small bit that I can do to help us not only survive this period, but really thrive in these pretty dark times for small businesses."
Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or email@example.com.
Wheelhouse Harborside is now taking deposits for those interested in joining the Wheelhouse Cowork community. Its new location is already at 50% capacity, so space is limited.