Bay Area Restaurants Struggle Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

5 mins read

The coronavirus pandemic has severely affected restaurants in the Bay Area who find themselves struggling to recover their economy, with some being seen working together to meet their customers’ demand.

Some restaurants have begun operating under one roof, while others have started calling themselves specialty food shops. Food hubs are another way that small business owners are using to try and regain their pre-pandemic status.

One of the key differences between a food hub and a food stall is that an outside company is usually in charge of food stalls and its development. On the other hand, food hubs are controlled almost entirely by local residents in the food industry, working with each other.

Recently, Andy Kellogg opened Berkeley’s Hidden Cafe and said that the coronavirus pandemic has forced people to be crafty in order to survive. The resident said, “We all have to support each other. We’re on the same team.”

Customers would most likely not notice the difference between a food hub and a specialty food store. However, chefs and other food industry personnel would see obvious distinctions between the two workplaces. Food hubs tend to provide ample marketing of their brands or specialties and a sense of camaraderie.

In September, Marco Senghor reopened his Oakland restaurant named “Bissap Baobab” amid the coronavirus pandemic. There was one difference, he changed the name to “Bissap Baobab Oakland Collective Kitchen” and included items he could sell to women of color who were victims of the health crisis, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The weather is another factor that is currently challenging restaurants and small business owners. Food establishments across the Bay Area are slowly feeling the steady drop of temperature.

The executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, Laurie Thomas, said, “The statistics are that if it’s 45 degrees or less, people won’t dine outside.” He said that 25% of his booked customers canceled their appointments.

Rise Pizzeria and Sixto’s Cantina could only work to make their restaurants more cozy to make their customers feel more relaxed. Manager at Rise Pizzeria, Lisa Timanus, said they ordered heaters which would help them make the environment comfortable for customers.

Thomas noted that most restaurants are spending nearly $5,000 every month to power heat lamps. He added that the storage and maintenance of the equipment also posed a problem to restaurant owners.

University of California, San Francisco’s Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, noted that people who wanted to dine indoors should look for buildings where the air is changed frequently every hour. The medical expert added that despite being inside, people should still continue wearing masks and minimize the duration of their stay, ABC7 News reported.

Some restaurants have looked into providing deliveries for their food and service amid the threat of the COVID-19 virus. However, most business owners see third-party delivery apps such as GrubHub and DoorDash as necessary but also criticize them for their steep commission.

Eli’s Mile High Club owner Billy Joe Agan only used GrubHub for two weeks several years ago before finding himself letting go of the app. He said that one factor was when a driver refused to come in and take the order because he thought the environment was “satanic.”

Despite several years of working together, some GrubHub drivers continue to try, and pickup orders that the bar never agreed to that came from outdated menus. The delivery app has previously acknowledged placing restaurants on its app without their consent.

Several restaurants have criticized the delivery app for its presumptuous listing, one of which filed a lawsuit against the company. California Governor Gavin Newsom has found the situation severe enough to warrant a law that would be effective starting January 1, 2021, which would make it illegal to deliver food from restaurants without prior agreement in California, the San Francisco Gate reported.

Danielle Joyce Ong

Danielle is a local journalist with a passion for exploring stories related to crime and politics. When Danielle isn't busy writing or reading, she is usually exploring the great outdoors and all the hiking trails in the Bay.