When it comes to business, the coronavirus pandemic has been especially hard on restaurants.
“It started Sunday when Governor Gavin Newsom called for bars, nightclubs and similar establishments to close,” says Sonya Sorich from the Sacramento Business Journal.
“Meanwhile, restaurants were urged to only offer home delivery or carryout service. In the days that followed, several restaurants announced they would temporarily close their doors. The list includes Sacramento eateries such as the Tower Cafe and Mulvaney's B&L.”
Other restaurants are seeing if they can retain a customer base by focusing on carryout and delivery.
“This is a little easier for restaurants that already had a strong carryout program: places that serve entrees like sandwiches, burgers and pizza,” says Sorich.
Higher-end places that don’t regularly serve pizza and burgers are now pivoting to also focus on carryout. They're serving takeout entrees like steak, risotto and lamb...even bottles of wine to-go. Examples include Canon restaurant in East Sacramento, Back Bistro in Folsom's Palladio and Allora restaurant in East Sacramento.
Restaurants are adapting in other ways too. A few eateries have added a grocery component, selling items from their kitchen. Earlier this week, The Red Rabbit Kitchen and Bar in Sacramento was selling items such as a dozen eggs and a quart of freshly squeezed juice.
“And Aioli restaurant in midtown transformed into a market with offerings including flour, sugar, potatoes and onions,” says Sorich.
Hotels are another industry losing business. The Hyatt Regency Sacramento, the city's largest hotel, has stopped taking new reservations and is temporarily closed. Other local hotels are expected to follow.
“This is particularly hard for the region, since hotels in the area were doing extremely well before the outbreak, even with the convention center being closed,” says Sorich. “Occupancy rates were averaging around 90 percent.
Journalism is also being affected. Both the Sacramento News & Review and the music periodical Submerge Magazine are temporarily stopping publication due to lost advertising revenue from businesses like restaurants, clubs and bars.
And the effort to contain the spread of coronavirus is also hurting brick and mortar retail stores.
“Aside from grocery stores, which are dealing with their own challenges right now, many retailers have shut their doors. We've seen temporary closures from big malls like Arden Fair and the Roseville Galleria,” says Sorich. “And these closures could have long-term effects. Most of the experience-oriented businesses that were expected to save retail have shut their doors temporarily.”
Some fitness studios have responded to the challenges in unique ways. “Local yoga studios are offering online classes, for example,” says Sorich. “But even though businesses are finding ways to retain some customers, it's not clear what this will all mean financially in the long-term future. After all, businesses still have to meet financial obligations to their landlords and vendors.
There is help available. The city of Sacramento is accepting applications for emergency loans for businesses in the city that are disrupted by the pandemic. The no-interest loans can be up to $25,000 per business and will be made on a first-come, first-served basis. The total economic relief fund loan pool is $1 million.
Small business loans are also available. “The Small Business Administration is accepting applications for disaster assistance loans of up to $2 million,” says Sorich. “Nearly all California small businesses are eligible for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan.”
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