MOUNTAIN HOME, Idaho — The coronavirus pandemic has increased stress and uncertainty for business owners around the region, with many left to wonder when things will go back to normal, or what the full economic impact will be.
With all the restrictions and unknowns, it seems like a strange and even frightening time to launch a business.
But one family in Mountain Home believes they are up to the challenge.
“Our home is where your family is," Diane Patton says. "I think anywhere your family is, is home.”
That's Patton's motto when it comes to her newly-launched business in Mountian Home, the Family Fun Zone, which held its official ribbon-cutting on Tuesday.
Patton and her husband are retired Air Force veterans who moved to the are 12 years ago. As a mother of five, she said, she was often frustrated by the lack of options for children's activities in Mountain Home.
“There are plenty of parks. You can go to parks and you can enjoy some outdoor activity, but as far as inside, there’s nothing really to do here in the city,” she said. “We were always going to Boise, going to Twin Falls, going out of town, so we just decided to bring something here.”
In the early 2000s, there was a long-term plan to build a public recreation center in Mountain Home.
The city gathered taxes for the measure for about a decade, but the plans have been delayed due to a lack of funding, offering no resolution for a family-friendly place in Mountain Home.
It's a void the Family Fun Zone can hopefully help fill, said Mountain Home Mayor Rich Sykes, who attended the grand opening.
"You guys are filling a need that the citizens have wanted and needed for a very long time," he said.
Family Fun Zone offers a laser tag arena, arcade, party space for families, study area for kids after school, and a virtual interactive area for children.
More than anything else, Patton says, she wants visitors to feel safe at the Family Fun Zone. Proper precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are already in place.
“We are wiping everything down constantly, and we offer the first hour of every day for just small groups if you want to avoid the crowds,” she said.
Patton said the new business is a place where every kind of family is welcome.
"You’re bonding with families as well as friends, and businesses can come and bond and do team-building, so it’s building the community in all aspects,” she said.
For prices, hours of operation and more, visit the Family Fun Zone website here.