“There’s a lot of poaching going on right now. I’m just lucky that my staff is really loyal to me,” Garcia said. She has been able to hold on to her staff, even as she sees hiring signs outside restaurants offering competitive wages. Still, she is hoping to use additional grant funding to give her staff a bonus. She’s in no rush to bring back their live music or start crowding the restaurant again. Instead of packing the tables so tightly that people had to walk sideways between them, Garcia plans to continue outdoor dining and keep tables at a comfortable distance from each other.
Restaurants and retail businesses have been among the hardest hit during the pandemic. Now that things are reopening, some places are having a hard time hiring workers. “I just don’t know what’s going to happen after June 15 because everyone’s going to open up. It’s either going to be great or not because obviously we would have more competition,” Garcia said.
For Garcia, after a difficult year of shutdowns, business has been even better than pre-COVID times. Even without live music and with shorter hours, Garcia said, “we’re actually hitting our numbers every day.” Garcia said she does not know what to expect.
“I was overwhelmed with how much love we got back because I didn’t know people cared that much about us,” Garcia said. ‘The pandemic lit a fire under me’ The local community has also stepped up to support with fundraising and donations of masks and home-grown vegetables.
Garcia said the pandemic gave them the chance to reshape their business, with support from local, state and federal programs. She’s thankful for the Paycheck Protection Program loans and business grants from the San Mateo County Economic Development Association, also known as SAMCEDA, and the County of San Mateo. “We really like that we have shifted from a sports bar and live music venue to a family restaurant now,” Garcia said. “We are not seen as a dive bar any longer.”
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