The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the deaths of thousands of people around the globe. It’s next potential victim? Small businesses and restaurants.
To promote take-out and delivery services, restaurants are calling on residents for help during the “Great American Takeout Day,” an event coined by restaurants around the U.S. to encourage take-out and delivery services from restaurants amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Los Angeles restaurants both large and small have had to turn away dine-in customers since Mayor Eric Garcetti’s March 15 order that only permits the city’s restaurants to offer takeout and delivery.
The economic situation has become so dire that President Trump and the Senate are voting on a third stimulus package that will provide small businesses private bank loans to cover their current losses. The Senate is expected to vote on the package for a third time on March 25.
In the meantime, some restaurant owners have taken to Twitter, using the hashtag #TheGreatAmericanTakeout in an effort to boost the number of takeout orders and ramp-up business.
Anthony Jolly, co-founder of family-owned restaurant Hot and Cool Cafe, said “the economic impact [of COVID-19] is more tremendous than the health impact.” He said he had to lay off all his employees, except family members and kitchen staff, as well as adjust the cafe’s menu prices. The health food cafe normally sees up to 150 customers a day, whereas now they barely see 25, Jolly said.
Despite this 83% decrease in average customers, Jolly has not considered temporarily closing Hot and Cool Cafe because he says it is one of the only healthy food options in Leimert Park. Instead, he is trying to stay positive and keep his business afloat. He believes that “[Angelenos] have to come together” as the county continues to comply with stay home orders to lessen the COVID-19 outbreak.
Nathan Castillo, the son of the founders of Emy’s burgers in South L.A., took to Twitter yesterday to ask the community to order takeout and show their support. Emy’s normally makes around $2,000 a day, but their profits have decreased to $650 a day within the last week, according to Castillo.
“I’ve never seen my dad with his head so down,” Castillo wrote to Annenberg Media. “It’s just horrible to see my dad so sad about losing so much business. He loves to work and he’ll do anything to get business up and going again.”
Darlene Berleson, a longtime patron of Emy’s Burgers, suggested on Twitter to start a GoFundMe page to earn extra money from supporters — as many other small businesses have — but Castillo declined.
“That just wouldn’t be right... thank you so much, but a simple retweet or re-share would mean the world,” Castillo responded on Twitter. “We love to work hard for our money and it just wouldn’t be right to ask for money. I’m sorry.”
To encourage others to buy from local businesses, Los Angeles County Board Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas posted a video of himself ordering takeout from Highly Likely Cafe in West Adams.
“There’s a lot of stress in the environment, and yet we have to do all that we can do to remain positive, pull together, and support each other,” Ridley-Thomas said.
Chef Kat Turner from Highly Likely Cafe said she is hoping that the virus-related restrictions situation will end soon and looks forward to returning to normal business operations.
“A large part of our weekday business depends on guests who choose Highly Likely [as] a meeting place or as a workspace for a few hours; on the weekends we are a bustling neighborhood brunch spot, and at night we’re a spot where folks can wind down with a glass of wine, or attend one of our collaborative pop-up events,” Turner wrote in an email to Annenberg Media. “That lack of connection and community has had the biggest impact on us in my opinion.”