Local restaurants struggle during coronavirus pandemic

Story by Katharine Florence
Staff Writer

Photo by Sean Jin
Staff Photographer

These past few months, local businesses have struggled through the coronavirus shutdown and the economy’s subsequent downward spiral. Many restaurants have tried to cope by fulfilling takeout and delivery services after safety guidelines restricted in-house dining.  

Urban Kitchen, a recreational cooking school on Fair Oaks, cut most of its provided services, including adult leisure classes, private parties, and pop-up promotional events. The kitchen is now limited to running socially-distant kids camps, consisting of hands-on weekly cooking classes. 

“We also built out a more robust recipe page on the website, provided meal plans, and shopping lists via our newsletters, and hosted ‘Saturday Social’ live lessons on IGTV,” Urban Kitchen founder Michelle Hohman said. 

The Instagram Live events are short cooking lessons featuring at least one of the recipes from Urban Kitchen’s website. Guests can purchase a pantry box with the ingredients needed to follow along.

However, operating under health guidelines can be costly, especially when businesses are already losing revenue. A small loan from the federal Paycheck Protection Program sustained Cos&Pi, a local brunch spot on Pasadena Avenue, for two months during the pandemic. The restaurant is now struggling to come up with the money to pay for safety equipment for its customers and 10 employees. 

“Now, we are left in this grey area where we are operating, but with restrictions and added costs. We have exhausted all of our options to keep our doors open and to be able to provide the best possible food with the best possible service while keeping everyone safe,” Cos&Pi’s founder Xochilt Perez said. “We are humbly asking for help.”

In order to keep its business running, Cos&Pi created a GoFundMe fundraiser, and continues to do takeout orders. Additionally, many local small businesses have collaborated in order to support one another.

“We began promoting like-minded businesses who were also in need of help,” Hohman said. “These were not revenue generating activities but we felt it was important to be a resource to our customers and community.”

Jones Coffee teamed up with Cos&Pi and sells its pastries at the shop’s multiple locations. However, Jones Coffee founder Chuck Jones said that the City should do more to create safe, al fresco dining. Many small businesses are also calling for residents’ support to stay afloat during the coronavirus.

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