By Andrew Ficke
What challenges are you facing with the changing restaurant environment?
“My family has owned restaurants for over 55 years. In that time we have never experienced anything remotely close to what is happening in the world today. We are trying to navigate through these turbulent times that have taken away our ability to be successful. My restaurant for instance is at only 20% capacity to what we normally are. Trying to run a business at 20% capacity is very difficult. That tacked on with the increased cost in operating such as proper sanitization, social distancing equipment (such as dividers), and hiring professional sanitization/cleaning companies to ensure a safe work and dining environment has made our margins nearly impossible to achieve. The restaurant business is a very fickle business as it is and with these new rules and regulations it makes for a nearly impossible possibility of success. That being said, we adapt, we fight, and we try to push through in order to continue to serve the amazing City of Seal Beach whose residents have been so supportive of us through this difficult time. Our regulars are truly the heart of our restaurant and I like to think my Grandmothers food is the soul. Together we will fight to stay in business.”
Has your business received support from the city?
“We have received support in the form of approval to have 2 (2 person) tables on the sidewalk. We have applied to the City for a grant and are waiting for a response.”
Have city staff been helpful?
“[Senior Planner] Steve Fowler and [Community Development Director] Les [Johnson] over at the City have been doing their best to support local businesses. The Seal Beach Chamber of Commerce has been working with them to push the city to allow for expanded outdoor dining but we need the City to support Les and Steve and do more to help save Seal Beach small businesses. Not only restaurants but shops need support as well. I think the city is brainstorming on how to help, the problem is, it is taking too long. Time is not on our side. Other cities such as Orange, Huntington Beach, Fullerton, Laguna Beach and Long Beach quickly worked together to put measures into place to allow for expanded outdoor seating and shopping. We need to look at their models and quickly come up with a solution that works in Seal Beach. They need to act quickly before it is too late.”
What do you think the city should do?
“The City of Seal Beach should allow for expanded outdoor dining and shopping on Main Street. I believe that this could entail something along the lines of a few parking spots here and there to expand patios and the ability for shops to place merchandise on the sidewalks or perhaps create an outdoor shopping area in front of their shops. “
Have you or your staff had problems with customers who object to the mask mandate?
“Thankfully our customers have been supportive of following the rules placed on us by the State of California.”
Do you expect to still be in business next year?
“I think we all expect to be in business next year. As a restaurant owner I pour my heart and soul into my restaurant. It has been my passion for my entire life and for generations before me in my family from my brothers and myself, to our father, and our grandmother. COVID-19 was something none of us ever foresaw coming. I love serving my Grandmother’s recipes to the community in Seal Beach and will do everything in my power to continue to do that for years to come. This community has become family to me.”