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Like most of the service industry, Bounce Milwaukee / Fling Milwaukee closed on March 16, 2020. At first, owners Ryan Clancy and Becky Cooper – along with their dedicated staff – attempted to offer carryout and delivery. They also transformed their parking lot into a drive-in movie theater where they showed films and social justice documentaries in light of the country-wide protests due to George Floyd's murder.
"However, as Covid cases began to rise and the federal and Wisconsin governments failed to act, we decided it was safer for our staff and our community to close completely. We've been fully closed since August," says Cooper.
Since then, their space was donated to Ayuda Mutua MKE for its mutual aid collection and distribution center.
"We love having them there and are proud to have a way to continue being a part of Milwaukee's generous community even while we're closed. It's important to us to ensure they have a smooth transition to continue doing their great work, so we started those discussions with them early on," says Cooper.
Clancy and Cooper plan to repoen the business – a large facility that houses inflatables, ax throwing courts, laser tag, rocking climbing, old school arcade, restaurant and bar – in July.
"We also need to rehire staff and retrain and finish revitalizing our space to make it perfect to welcome everyone back. We didn't want to rush that process," says Cooper.
During the down time, the owners made physical changes to the space and attractions to ensure safety both for this specific pandemic and to keep customers healthier in the future. When they reopen, Bounce / Fling will require their staff to be vaccinated.
"There's no point in closing down for a year to keep everyone safe if we aren't going to uphold safety standards when we reopen," says Cooper.
Most of all, the owners say this year has been eye-opening in terms of the importance of fair wages, health care and sick leave. They have plans to address all those issues for their own staff as well as across the hospitality industry.
"It shouldn't have taken a pandemic to bring those things to the public eye. There have been a lot of the best restaurants in Milwaukee working on these questions for a long time and we're proud to be part of that conversation," says Cooper.
"We'll be excited to show off the space when everything is ready. In some ways, it feels like starting over again, which is nice to do with 6 years of prior wisdom under our belts. And we will always have the same mission and drive: to be fully immersed in our city from locally-sourced products to continuing to work in social justice and community support. We all really need some fun after a pretty tough year, and we are ready to provide all of it."
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.