Community owned businesses impacted by COVID-19

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Customers wait outside of a restaurant on Beverly Drive to pick up food. Photo credit to Ava Seccuro.

Ava Seccuro co editor in chief

Catherine Gagulashvili co editor in chief

 

Across the community, small business owners, regardless of whether their businesses are deemed “essential” or not, have felt the blows that the coronavirus and government issued stay-at-home orders have dealt.

On March 19, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the closure of all nonessential businesses as another aspect of the stay-at-home order. And even so, businesses that are considered essential must now operate at a more cautionary capacity than they did before the spreading pandemic.

The Los Angeles County’s Small Business Recovery Loan program is set to provide “easy to access, timely, and sufficient financial relief to small businesses that are most impacted by an acute downturn in revenue caused by an unforeseen emergency outside their immediate control.” For some, the fruits of their business is the only source of income they get, and now with the stay at home order still in place until at least May 15, these effects will not only last through then, but past it as well. 

For junior Nathaniel Gamboa’s family, their restaurant, Prospect Gourmand, used to seat around 95% of their customers and continuously had “very busy” days on the weekends, said his mother Chancey Gamboa. But now, people just “walk by,” and are ordering in more frequently because they are no longer allowed to let people sit down.

For Chancey, her business felt the impact “immediately” after the stay at home order was implemented, which caused her to have to make some changes to daily operations. They’ve set up a “little farmers market,” she said, on the side of Robertson Boulevard to sell essential goods, and they’ve also made limited menus to make it easier for their kitchen staff to prepare takeout orders.

However, the order has impacted more than just their business routines.

“It has taken a big toll on our work hours. It has been difficult to have a day off lately. We have gone down from 20 employees to a couple of part-time employees,” Gamboa said. “We’ve asked our kids to start working more than they ever have. We were already trying to pay off our debts by moving our restaurant, so losing so much business doesn’t help.”

Although senior Ryan Fernandez’s family business, the Buena Vista Cigar Club, is not an essential business, they too have felt the same effects.

“This, of course, has hit everybody extremely hard as many people have no way of earning any income or anything like that. The business has come to a complete standstill with no new income to maintain utilities [such as] power, water, rent, etcetera,” Fernandez said. “We’ve had to…work to apply for all government assistance possible with their small business loans to keep us afloat. We’ve all had to work as a team in order to make things as smooth as possible.”

After the stay at home orders are lifted, Gamboa’s goal is to open another restaurant “three times” bigger than the Prospect Gourmand.

“People are such social animals. People have been so amazing and so giving to us. We’ve had nothing but loyal customers and the community came to rally up to support us,” she said. “They’ve come in and started buying things they don’t even need.”

The City of Beverly Hills released a statement regarding the city’s preparation to reopen businesses in accordance with state ordinances. 

“We have assembled an experienced group to help us navigate the challenging work ahead,” Mayor Lester Friedman said in a release. “I’m confident this task force will provide valuable insight as we rebuild our local economy following this unprecedented event.”

As California is in the beginning stages of reopening and returning to semi-normal life, Fernandez hopes that everyone can recover safely.

“We of course hope we can make a speedy recovery from this hit and hope all life can return to normal for everyone,” he said. “We want to come back stronger from this and hope to be back on track.”

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