The deadly Coronavirus pandemic that has ravaged local economies continues to rage on, but as California’s governmental restrictions continue to ease as the state looks to rebound, many businesses have been looking to take advantage and get back on track as best as possible.
Restaurants, service industries and retailers were among some of those that were hit hardest by the closures. Especially those that are locally owned and operated.
Take Andiamo Ristorante Italiano, located in Clovis on Shaw Ave.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom mandated that restaurants close all dine-in services, leaving businesses only the ability to make a modicum of their normal revenue.
Andiamo had to cancel events in its banquet room, a large source of revenue for the company, and at the worst possible time, Jennifer Paolilli, general manager of Andiamo, said.
“We had a lot of graduation parties, rehearsal dinners, bridal showers. This is our busy time for that, especially graduation. Most of them took a food credit, which was amazing,” she said. “Different times of the year, that room is really busy, and this time of year it’s very busy.”
Holding the business afloat was its ability to still allow customers to order food for curbside pickup and takeout, along with utilizing delivery services such as UberEats and DoorDash.
Andiamo also sold daily dinner specials for two that it served via takeout, available on the restaurant’s Facebook and Instagram pages, a practice that the business plans to continue for the foreseeable future.
Once Newsom declared that restaurants could resume dine-in operations on May 21 in Fresno County after it had received approval for a variance to the California Roadmap to Resilience reopening plan, Paolilli said that business did start to pick back up due to support from the community.
“We have had a really good response. Our regular customers have been amazing,” she said. “Most of our regulars have been coming in regularly, supporting us. They want us to stay around, so we’re still down from where we were, for sure. But it’s picking back up.”
However, just because customers are dining in does not mean it’s back to business as usual.
Due to social distancing guidelines set forth by the state that must be adhered to, Andiamo is still only dining inside at 50 percent capacity. It does offer an outdoor dining option as well, but the arid Valley climate has put that on hold.
“It’s too hot because we live in Fresno or Clovis,” Paolilli said.
But Paolilli remains optimistic that Andiamo will bounce back and recover from the shutdown.
“Once we can get the banquet room back up and get the tables back at 100 percent, I think we’ll be fine. It’s just we don’t have any idea when that is going to happen.”
Other locally owned businesses, like those in Old Town, weren’t quite as fortunate to be allowed to stay open in any capacity during the shutdown.
Clovis Barber Shop and Cozy Cottage Antiques both were forced to close completely, causing a loss of revenue that will never be recouped, even as their businesses were allowed to reopen in late May.
“Nobody will ever recover from what they lost because you just can’t do that much business, but you can now make what you were making before and just continue going on,” owner of Clovis Barber Shop Tim Adams said.
“It’s going to take us many months, probably even up to a year, to totally recover because just because we were closed we still have bills to pay,” Cozy Cottage co-owner Lori Frazier said.
Both businesses were out for thousands of dollars and neither received assistance such as the Paycheck Protection Program or any other loans from the state, essentially leaving them to fend for themselves entirely. It’s a story that is common across the industry, Adams said.
“That’s why a lot of barber shops and salons closed up. They weren’t getting any financial support whatsoever,” he said. “A lot of barber shops, if they had multiple people cutting hair in there, some of those people had to lose their jobs because of the social distancing. I didn’t have anybody working here.”
Frazier said that if Cozy Cottage had remained closed for another three weeks, it likely would have closed as well. It got so dire, that she and her co-owner Linda had to dip into their own personal savings accounts to stay afloat.
And although her business is back open at full capacity in terms of hours, Frazier said that customers aren’t willing to come out and shop in force because the fear of COVID-19 still remains prevalent.
“I think most people in general want to see what’s going to happen,” Frazier said. “Now that businesses have been released to open back up, I think if they are going to wait a few more months.”