After 21 1/2 years in Bethel, O'Neil's Sandwich Shop & Coffee Bar has become the latest casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The iconic sandwich shop will be closing down this Sunday, September 20. Like many business owners, PJ O'Neil was determined to soldier on as the onslaught of COVID-19 presented new challenges. New ceilings were repainted and installed, and then along came Tropical Storm Isaias, which meant no electricity for seven days.

At this point, according to an article in, PJ began re-evaluating his situation. He was financially tapped out and down $50,000 to $60,000. He worked 90 hours a week and never took off on the weekends. He asked himself, "What am I doing?"

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Bethel residents who frequented O'Neil's are heartbroken over the closure. Bethel First Selectman, Matt Knickerbocker, called O'Neil's a "Bethel institution". Here is what PJ O'Neil told the Newstimes:

I'm not having second doubts because I really did think long and hard about this. It's tough. I didn't think it was going to be as hard as it is.

Put yourself in PJ's shoes. Can you even imagine what it must be like to put your heart and soul into your own business for over 21 years and end like this? He understands that eventually, he'll have to develop his 'what's next' scenario. When the Newstimes asked him about it, this is what he said:

I haven't thought enough about it. I'm just trying to get through the hardest moment of my life.

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