Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – First there was taco night, then barbecue sandwiches, followed by meats by the pound – all splashy marketing events to generate buzz leading up to Proof BBQ’s grand opening in the Cleveland suburbs. And then came coronavirus.

Michael Griffin already had success with a popular pizza joint in the area and was following it up with Proof BBQ, which was slated to open in March, just as most restaurants and much of the nation were shutting down amid the pandemic.

“You’re going, going, going 100 miles an hour. You’re testing out sauces and you’re testing out the meat,” Griffin said. “We just lost all that buzz we had from that February-March push.”

The odds of success with a new business are always precarious – few expect to turn a profit in the first year or two. Add the challenges of a devastated economy and constantly changing