2020: A Restaurant’s Perspective of Navigating Covid-19 in Los Angeles

The Covid-19 shutdown caused our sales to drop more than 90% in a matter of days.

Today, we have bled over $27k in 1.5 Months, setting new records of reaching below zero in our checking account.

After a decade of grueling efforts to grow the business, my family was finally hopeful that our sales were finally reaching higher positives in 2020.

Welcoming our 10-year anniversary, the city of Los Angeles went into lockdown and restaurants were forced to shut down all and any sorts of dining operations on March 16, 2020. The only thing remaining were “predatory” delivery apps: Grubhub, Postmates, UberEats, Doordash, charging a minimum of 20% to the highest 40% commissions for restaurants for customers to use their platform to order food.

After over two months of no guidance, we received news of economic stimulus for restaurants and were thankfully able to apply for the first round of the government stimulus package, PPP (Payroll Protection Plan), which helped strictly for backed up rent, utilities, bills and payroll.

After four months of barely making $100 daily sales, in July 2020, restaurants were allowed Al Fresco (outdoor) dining.

We needed to adapt to the change as we could not afford to sit around and hope that things would return back to normal. Internally, I was battling the want to quit, the want to give it all up. We invested our earnings into outdoor operational materials, which is were also heavily inflated in price due to the sudden rise of demand and low supply.

Personally, despite having experienced pneumonia on three different occasions in my lifetime, I had to work long and grueling hours, days, weeks to make up for our family’s lost capital and savings to make sure we could withstand another emergency. This was my family’s livelihood, and I felt not only the responsibility and obligation to not let them down, but our full-time staff, our family.

There were too many uncontrollables. As the world was experiencing an unprecedented and wild 2020, we felt the repercussions on the forefront. Due to the rioting and looting, sudden curfews were placed and we needed to close doors earlier. Despite the cause of the Black Lives Matter movement, we could not help but to feel edgy about keeping our store safe as the streets were a ghost town and rioting was happening down the street.

Not only did we have to reinvest our earnings into al fresco, we also had to haul loads of tables and chairs in and out on a daily in the 100 degrees+ Fahrenheit in the summer.

However, we still remained grateful for the opportunity we were given to operate the few months al fresco. It not only helped us realize our potential that we were losing sight of, but it helped us gain more local support from our patrons. We were finally getting accustomed to outdoor operations.

Four months later, Los Angeles was once again forced to shut down Al Fresco dining, the day after Thanksgiving. Though we felt more confident because we had been through this once before, everyday is still a battle.

We have chosen not to furlough any staff members this time around, but our funds have been depleted.

Today, we still have no idea where things are going, or what the future of the industry or the world is going to look like.

Covid-19 is more rampant than ever, and our business stands in the current epicenter of the virus. As a public business, we are afraid to transmit coronavirus or contribute to the spread of the virus in any way. However, our livelihood is on the line and we battle the need to do whatever we can to stay afloat.

This business is our life savings. We’ve poured blood, sweat and tears into creating this place, and this is our second home.

Though we have constantly tried to adapt to the changes, it still does not compare to being able to normally operate. There is nothing else we can do, but patiently wait as we have finally been able to apply for the second round of the Payroll Protection Plan.

Although we heavily understand the importance and ‘whys’ of the lockdown, every day is brutal. We can only remain hopeful that things will get better, as we continually monitor current events in the US.

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