With the COVID-19 Stay-at-Home order in place for an unknown amount of time, Idyllwild restaurant owners are trying to keep their businesses afloat.
Our restaurants are hanging on by a thread and are holding onto positivity the best they can but they need the community support.
Jennifer Fey, owner of Atomic Cow Creamery, has felt the hit in business saying, “We had to close our dining room and we made one of our windows a take-out window. It’s working OK but business is way down.”
While business has been slow for obvious reasons, Fey appreciates the community for venturing out to buy from her.
“The locals have been very supportive,” said Fey. “I have been trying to come up with good food that people can take home to their family.”
Idyllwild has been through fires, floods, road closures, earthquakes and now a pandemic. The challenges our community have faced have been enormous.
Robert Garcia, owner of La Casita and Café Aroma, is doing his best to stay positive during this time. Garcia has been here since 1994 and has never seen times quite like these.
While Garcia has made the choice to close Café Aroma until late April or early May depending on the circumstances, La Casita is operating seven days a week from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. for to-go orders only.
He expressed his gratitude to the locals that are supporting him.
“I honestly stayed open because of the feedback I was getting. A lot of locals didn’t want us to close,” said Garcia. “Business has been a little slower, but if it wasn’t for our locals, we wouldn’t be there.”
There is hope for a busy summer.
“We’ll get through this,” Garcia said. “ We have to focus on taking care of our health and everyone else’s. I think we’re going to have a busy summer. All the businesses will be hopping. We just have to hang in there.”
While we navigate this unfamiliar territory, it’s important to recognize how fragile we are as a human race, and how much we have to be grateful for. We all take things for granted at times, but collectively, it’s important to remember that much of what we consider normal can be taken away with no warning. With that, we have a choice in how we react and whether we come together as a community or not.
“I appreciate the whole town for being supportive,” said Garcia. “Idyllwild wouldn’t be Idyllwild if it wasn’t for our community.”
The Red Kettle is also still open for to-go orders and has felt the strain. Wanting to give back to the community, they have continued to stay open.
Manager Annie Weaver said, “We’ve lost about 90% of our usual business, but we are grateful for the 10% we have left. We aren’t making enough money to pay to be open, but we really wanted to provide some continuity to the community. We only have two people at a time working on a rotating basis and the other 16 are staying home.”
There is something to be said about a business that is staying open just for the community. It shows how much community means.
“The first week was very slow and discouraging,” Weaver said. “The second week picked up a bit, and the third week a little more. What I’m seeing is more people that are working in essential businesses are coming by and grabbing food. You see a familiar face and you realize it’s good you’re doing this and doing a good service.”
On a more somber note, there is the reality that this is the worst of the worst so far.
To give the community an idea of this economic hit Weaver explained: “When the fire happened, we lost business for a few weeks. When the flood happened, we were down 70% and gradually got better. This is a 90-95% drop depending on the day. It’s devastating. I hope and pray we get the help we need or we will lose everything up here. I’ve never seen anything like this.”
So that begs the question, what can we do as a community to help each other? Weaver said gift cards are a good way to help get the money the businesses need now while planning to dine when the Stay-at-Home order is lifted.
“If the public wants to help their local restaurants or businesses, they need to start buying gift cards if they can afford it, so they can use it when things normalize,” Weaver said. “That helps the businesses stay open and getting the money now, when they need it. They can buy them from our website, so they don’t even have to leave their house.”
The Red Kettle is offering 15% off gift cards until the end of the Stay-at-Home order, which can be purchased at http://perrysredkettle.com/.
While the community does what they can to help, bigger steps have also been taken.
“We applied for Emergency Disaster Relief and for the Paycheck Protection Program,” Weaver said. “No word yet if we have been approved or not.”
In closing, be kind, helpful, respectful and realize everyone is feeling the stress of this pandemic. Essential workers are out there to help you. Also help them and show them that they matter to you.