As austerity measures have kicked-in to help slow the spread of coronavirus, individuals and small-businesses alike everywhere are adapting to the new realities of everyday work and life. Scores of people have lost their jobs, at least temporarily, while others are working from home.
Restaurants have adjusted to having take-out and delivery only, beaches, parks, and trails are closed, while only essential shops like gas stations and grocery stores remain open.
The Peninsula Beacon asked workers and small-business owners to share what they’re doing to adjust and cope in these uncertain times.
“We are reaching out to the community to inform them about our local businesses that are still offering goods and services and especially take-out food, posting the businesses on our website, but It’s a moving target,” said Denny Knox, executive director for Ocean Beach MainStreet Association.
“As the restaurants contact us, we post the information as quickly as we can, but we have limited staff time and diminished resources. We’re getting tons of information for the City, County, and state. We’re filtering it and posting it as quickly as possible and getting it out to our members.”
Added Knox: “We’re trying to remain calm but hopeful that this community will rebound when this is all over. Since just about everyone is in the same boat, people are generally being really nice to each other and showing genuine concern for each other. We are swamped with stuff to do.”
- Dana Cahill and husband Donato Malavarca have run F-Max Fitness at 1065 Rosecrans St. for about 18 years. Dana said they’ve shifted to offering online workouts, as well as doing one-on-one training to compensate for their gym being closed to groups.
“About 80% of our clients are choosing to stay at home, so we’re only doing private, one-on-one sessions where it’s just one trainer and one client,” she said. “That brings in some income at least. We’re keeping our doors locked and only letting in one person at a time while making everyone wash their hands before and after.”
Noting many of her clients are 65 and above, Dana added their facility is doing everything to accommodate them including hosting online, interactive workouts. But she warned, “The reality is we’re scared because it’s a make-it-or-break-it situation.”
- Costa Rican SDSU student Madeline Norman was working for Pizza Nova in La Jolla until she got laid off due to the pandemic. She is now in a bind: Norman can’t return home because the Costa Rican border has been closed, and she’s also committed herself by giving 30-days notice to her landlord.
“I am now stuck here indefinitely with no job and soon no place to live,” Norman said. “Our particular restaurant already has a staff for taking out and delivery during normal circumstances, so they have priority for what shifts may be available at this point. We have all been urged to apply for unemployment, which I have done.”
Pointing out she can’t pay for $1,100 monthly rent, utilities, a car payment, and car insurance, Norman lamented, “I hope my landlord is lenient about my paying rent through part of April until my 30 days notice is up and I can move in with friends.”
- “I lost 50% of my income when I lost my job working part-time at a restaurant,” said Megan Stone of San Diego, who has worked as a brewer and has done marketing for local breweries. “I’ve been fortunate to be able to work at home.
“A lot of my training in the past in brewing has helped me with problem-solving, hopefully, I can find ways to supplement my lost income. I’m also trying to help others with a blog post on social media (@isbeeracarb) showing links to unemployment and other resources.”
Small-business owners too are going above and beyond to adapt and accommodate customers during troubled times.
- Megan Carter, owner of Green and Ivy Cleaning Services covering the Peninsula, is preparing for the worst by cutting back.
“We closed down today except for vacation rentals and move-outs where no one is in the houses,” said Carter, who started her successful business in 2019 cleaning a friend’s home. Added Carter, “My passion is running a business. I clean small restaurants, offices and vacation rentals. Ideally, I would like to get into all these offices that are (now) closed.”
- Pet sitter Allison Shea of Allison Shea’s Lucky Dogs in OB, who handles just about every pet (except spiders), is also grappling with holding the line on securing work and holding her own.
“We’re all in the same boat,” she said. “I’m just trying to stay calm and not be overwhelmed. But this is my livelihood. I’ve been doing it for five or six years.”
Shea, who has won the Peninsula Beacon’s annual “Best Of” award for pet-sitters, noted she’s not in bad shape financially. “I’m a good saver. I’ve saved some money.”
But she was quick to add, “Nobody is traveling now so house-sitting – I’ve lost that income. I don’t spend money before I have it. I’m dealing with it day-by-day.”
- “If you are hungry and want to grab a bite to eat, Konito’s (1730 Garnet Ave.) is open for takeout and is also accepting phone orders,” said owner Joe Bettles. “The restaurant has put markers on the ground so that people picking up food are standing six feet apart. It’s even set up so that customers will be six feet away from the cashier.
“It’s been hard but our employees are making the most of it and our customers are incredibly gracious with the changes we’ve had to make. We went from an all-cash business four years ago with no phone orders, to now accepting only credit cards, taking phone orders, and soon will be using delivery apps.”
- “To support our community, we are proud to offer free pick up and delivery with any service,” said Randy Begin, owner of Cass Street Automotive at 5165 Cass St. “Once we've picked up your vehicle we are encouraging no-contact and can communicate all details of repairs over the phone, take payment over the phone and then return the vehicle to the original pick-up location.”
Added Begin: “If you prefer to use our convenient drop-off system, just park your car on our lot anytime and grab an envelope from the small mailbox hung by the front door. Fill out the required information and our staff will deal with the rest of the services electronically.”
- Sarah Mattinson, owner of Olive Cafe and Olive Baking Co., 735 Santa Clara Place, in Mission Beach, has found a way to remain open by expanding her repertoire.
“We are so grateful to be able to stay open and provide the local community with food,” Mattinson said. “The bakery and cafe have taken as many precautions as possible while we serve the public. Limiting the number of customers inside, increasing the sanitizing of, well, everything, and abiding by the suggested six-foot distance between people.”
Added the restaurateur: “We are baking lots of bread and pastries to keep up with the demand. We are also offering other essential staples – milk, eggs, butter, cheese, rice, pasta, soup, crackers, paper towels, and toilet paper, just to name a few. We are encouraging call-ins for curbside pick-up as well as local deliveries,” Mattinson said. “You can reach the bakery at 858-291-8222. New extended hours from 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m.”
- Olive Cafe is also open for to-go orders, curbside pick-ups and deliveries selling grocery items including produce. The cafe at 858-488-1224 and extended hours are from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Insomnia Cookies at 1997 Garnet Ave. is now offering a number of delivery options for “Insomniacs” including those outside of their normal delivery radius. To see if your home falls within the new delivery radius, visit their website and enter your address.
- Another local eatery helping out is The Melt, at 8849 Villa La Jolla Drive. The restaurant is offering free meals (up to $15) for all hospital and medical staff beginning this week. Medical staff just need to show their medical badges. All meals are to-go only.
The Melt’s chef-created menu features handcrafted MeltBurgers made from a blend of Angus and Wagyu beef, grilled cheeses, crispy fries, homemade mac ‘n’ cheese, milkshakes and soup, and salads.
- Like the big boxes, Crest Liquor Deli at 3787 Ingraham St. in Pacific Beach had a run on toilet paper and similar necessities but store general manager Jason Clark noted, “It’s been pretty busy, pretty steady, the last week or so.”
He added: “We did run out of toilet paper early-on, which was not really a surprise. We’re definitely making sure we get more. People are coming here now because they don’t want to go to Trader Joe’s or Vons where they know they don’t have anything but canned goods and refrigerated foods.”
The long-time shop has also partnered with the downtown restaurant Social Tap to offer grab-n-go meals.
- Ocean Beach People's Organic Food Market at 4765 Voltaire St. was also holding its own.
“We’re doing well, though we have depleted shelves for a lot of groceries,” said store manager Sarela Bonilla. “We’ve restricted our entire staff, including cashiers, not to come within six feet of people. We’re replenishing our milk and kinds of pasta and canned soups that had been depleted. On the positive side, the community is banding together.”
- John Gelastopoulos, owner of Broken Yolk with locations in PB and Midway, said his business is down since the order was given for restaurant take-out and delivery only.
“Things are not good,” he said. “People are staying at home. Some of my employees have had to go on unemployment. My business is down 75% to 80%.”
Added Gelastopoulos, “We’re giving away free coffee or orange juice to our customers to show our appreciation for their coming in and taking their orders to-go. I just hope this will be over pretty soon. We have to stay optimistic and positive.”
- Michael Saad owner of Point Loma Shelter Island Drug Store at 1105 Rosecrans St., pointed out he’s coping with a tough situation.
“Everybody is under a lot of stress,” he said. “It’s a very difficult situation to try and run a business this way. But we’re trying to stay open and provide essential services, which we have a responsibility to do. We’re trying to do as many deliveries as possible, trying to have pick-up at the front of the pharmacy where people don’t have to come into the store.”
- Barons Market, at 4001 W. Point Loma Blvd., extended shopping time for customers over 65 to shop at any store location exclusively from 9-10 a.m. The regular market hours are 10 a.m.-8 p.m. to allow extra time for extensive sanitizing of the store.
- Jensen’s Foods, at 955 Catalina Blvd., has senior shopping from 6-7 a.m. Regular shopping hours are 7 a.m.-8 p.m.
5 BEERS FOR QUARANTINE
In support of the local breweries, we asked brewer and beer aficionado Megan Stone (@isbeeracarb) for her recommendations for beers to enjoy while stuck at home. Sláinte!
1. The Pupil by Societe.
2. Clever Kiwi by Burgeon.
3. Rain by Pure Project.
4. Bacon and Eggs by Pizza Port.
5. Eppig, and Burning Beard are both making great beer.
FIND TAKEOUT NEAR YOU
Many restaurants remain open with reduced staff and increased health protocols to service the community and to weather these very challenging times. To aid in the communication of dynamic changes in the industry, SanDiegoRestaurantWeek.com is now a resource for San Diegans to find restaurants that are currently still open and offering food for pick-up and/or delivery.
The site is searchable by neighborhood, food type and average meal price and provides easy links to online ordering and meal delivery platforms.
For businesses still open in Ocean Beach, Point Loma, and Liberty Station:
If you have lost work or have had your hours reduced, you may apply for Employment Development Department unemployment insurance. Gov. Gavin Newsom has waived the one-week waiting period for benefits and is looking at expanding unemployment insurance claim offerings. Visit edd.ca.gov to file for unemployment insurance.