Peninsula merchants are expressing guarded optimism about rebooting with strict health guidelines 10 weeks after being closed – or nearly so – by the pandemic. Of the devastating impact of being forced to shut down during such unprecedented times, one thing seems certain: It won’t be business as usual.
And how long that will last? No one at this point can tell.
“Since March when the pandemic first arose we’ve seen a 99% drop in business due to the stay-at-home order and as expected customers did not want outsiders in their homes,” said Tony Romano of Service Kings Carpet & Tile Cleaning at 4660 Niagara Ave. “Now that the restrictions are being lifted, we are starting to see customers coming back to do cleanings in their homes and businesses, but definitely not anywhere near what business was like this time last year.”
Jason Bullard of Sunset Clipps at 4804 Santa Monica Ave., lamented the lack of communication between the state and small-business merchants during the pandemic.
“The communication between cosmetologists and the state board was non-existent,” he claims. “I never received one email about the virus situation, learned everything from the news, including (about) reopening. Working with a mask on for eight hours was more difficult than expected. But overall it is nice to be back to work. We really missed our clients.”
Barbara Iacometti of Details SalonSpa at 4993 Niagara Ave., said: “Covid 19 has been quite devastating for salons. Before we had the shut down order we were already feeling the affects of people wanting to be away from other people by the numbers of cancellations we were getting. Once shut down, we had to deal with no income and bills that still came in. There is no waiting area anymore and magazines and refreshments are a thing of the past.
“People are asked to sign a waiver before coming to the salons. The new normal is service providers and salon clients will both be wearing masks. Stations will be disinfected between clients and social distancing will be followed. You won’t be able to bring your girlfriend, husband or child in with you to get your service.”
Sandy Hanshaw, owner of the Coffee Hub and the Wine Pub at 2907 Shelter Island Drive, in Point Loma Village, was ready to return, business as usual or not.
“We were excited to welcome customers back June 1,” she said. “We will be limiting our seating but will be offering additional outdoor seating in our breezeway. Additionally, masks will be worn by our staff and are required from our guests while they are ordering or until they arrive at their table.”
Scott Watkins of Ocean Beach Brewery at 5041 Newsport Ave. has had to rework his business model.
“You go up and order through plexiglass from the counter and they give you a number and bring your food to you trying to minimize contact,” he said. “We have people seated every other table at all three of our levels. Right now we’re open Thursday through Sunday all three levels. Monday through Wednesday it’s just the ground floor.”
Despite the difficulties of reopening under so many restrictions, Watkins said, “I’m an optimist. However, we won’t know for two weeks after we’ve opened, if we’ll have a surge of customers – or if people will back off a little. We’re in a huge recession now and people are out of work and struggling. The fact of the matter is, we’ll know in a couple of weeks what the turnout will be.”
Carol Ladiges, owner of Lighthouse Ice Cream at 5041 Newport Ave., said reopening has been tough. But she’s making do.
“I decided to close my doors temporarily on March 17,” Ladiges said. “It was a tough decision because March is one of our highest volume months with spring break. We reopened on May 18, serving customers from our front door. It's been challenging trying to serve them as quickly as possible.”
Added Ladiges: Our employees wear masks and gloves and use lots of hand sanitizer. We ask our customers to social distance and wear masks out of respect for our other patrons. I have displayed photos of each ice cream flavor in our front window to help keep the ice cream experience alive. For now, we have shortened our hours to 11:30 a.m.- 8:30 p.m.”
Meanwhile, for small-business owners, being back in business means adapting to the new “normal.”
“We provide an essential service to our customers to help maintain their homes’ and businesses’ cleanliness,” said Romano of Service Kings. “And of course we will always give the customers the peace of mind that we follow the prescribed six-foot distance and wear appropriate PPE.”
“I never qualified for small- business relief because my stylists are independent
contractors,” said Bullard of Sunset Clipps. “But thanks to the support of my customers through GoFundMe, I was able to keep the shop going during shut down.”
“The safety of our staff and guests is our primary focus,” said Iacometti of Details SalonSpa. “We would like to thank all of our clients for being so patient as we trend towards the new ways and pray a vaccine comes soon.”
Concluded Iacametti, “We have all been waiting for our haircuts, colors etc. Please be patient. We are working hard to get all of you in and get back to normal. We are excited to get back to our craft and back to making you all look and feel good.”
Details SalonSpa will be reopening Monday, June 8.