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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Businesses Can Reopen? Many Won’t Do So Soon

Although many long-suffering Los Angeles County businesses were allowed to reopen Monday – at very limited capacity – at least some in the Valley area said they don’t plan to reopen just yet. “I don’t think we’re going to (open soon) because it hit us with such short notice,” said Brent Peskin, manager of Brent’s Deli in Northridge, referring to the notice that came out Friday evening saying some businesses could reopen Monday. “I don’t know if we’re ready yet, with all these rules and everything.”Until Peskin feels confident he can keep his staff and patrons safe inside with increased physical distancing and N95 masks, as required by the county rules, he said the deli’s outdoor dining patio and online ordering service will be the primary ways to serve customers. Peskin also said the deli needs to hire and train staff to replace the nearly 50 percent of employees who were laid off at the beginning of the pandemic, so his goal is to reopen indoor dining by the end of the week.Under the less restrictive red-tier, to which Los Angeles County moved beginning Monday, indoor dining may resume at 25 percent capacity, with eight feet distance between tables and a limit of one 6-person household per table. Gyms and personal training facilities have a 10 percent indoor capacity limit to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission.Some said those low levels aren’t enough to sustain business.At Lam’s Thai and Chinese Restaurant in North Hollywood, manager Richar Lam said he’ll be unable to hire additional help until they’re allowed to open at full capacity. The small, family restaurant had to cut the hours of their only server when shutdowns began last year, and he and his brothers have been scraping by working in both the kitchen and front of house ever since. “We can’t hire an extra waiter to watch customers in the front and another one on the patio,” Lam said, as he explained that the struggling restaurant simply cannot afford more expenses. “And we’re not going to be able to give good service with no extra server so, for now, we’ll just do the patio.” While the restrictions on capacity are in place, Lam said he isn’t sure he’d have enough customers to keep the business afloat, even if he did open his indoor dining room with an extra server, since most of his customers are still prioritizing take-out and online orders. Personal trainer and owner of The Source for Your Body, Carlos Medina, said that many of his clients still feel apprehensive about exercising indoors, as well. As a result, he plans to continue outdoor and private coaching until he can open at more than 10 percent capacity. After being closed for almost the entire duration of the pandemic, Medina is frustrated, but hopeful.“It’s all in the attitude. You have to say, if you’re positive, you get positive vibes, if you’re negative, you get negative vibes. I’ve been there,” Medina said. “Believe me, the 2008 financial debacle was a complete disaster where I was your No. 1 candidate for negativity. But I got out of that, and COVID is nothing compared to the 2008 debacle. If I can survive that, I can survive anything.”

Katherine Tangalakis-Lippert
Katherine Tangalakis-Lippert
Katherine Tangalakis-Lippert is a Los Angeles-based reporter covering retail, hospitality and philanthropy for the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. In addition to her current beat, she is particularly interested in criminal justice topics, health and science stories and investigative journalism. She received her AA in Humanities from Moorpark College in 2016, her BA in Communication from Cal Lutheran University in 2019 and followed it up with a MA in Specialized Journalism from USC in the summer of 2020. Through her work, Katherine aspires to help strengthen the fragile trust between members of the media and the public.

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