Due to the pandemic of the coronavirus, local businesses have been forced to shut down or limit their hours and services. Following government guidelines, restaurants have been permitted to stay open, and many choose to do so by serving meals to-go. Owner and manager Nick Mendoza of Lolo’s Mexican Restaurant of Morro Bay spoke to the Spyglass about their experience as a local business remaining open during this pandemic.
According to the direction of Governor Gavin Newsom and regulations from the SLO County Health Department, restaurants were told at the start of this pandemic that they could only sell takeout with no inside setting. This transition was likely difficult to make on such short notice, but according to Mendoza, it was not too difficult for his restaurant. “Logistically, the transition to all takeout was pretty easy since we did about 25% takeout already.” For Mendoza, the hardest part of the transition was limiting the employees. “Laying off our serving staff was very difficult. Our kitchen staff are working some limited hours.” With no people to serve and a decrease in potential business, it was unfortunately a necessary call for Mendoza. When asked about returning to normal after the pandemic, Mendoza replied, “I doubt that ‘return to normal’ is coming any time soon. For our business, I think continuing takeout only is probably our best strategy going forward since opening at 25% or 50% is really not viable.” The process of reopening businesses like restaurants to full capacity may still be a long way away, and in the meantime, takeout orders are enough to keep places like Lolo’s open.
At the beginning of the pandemic, most people complied to the mandate of staying at home and sheltering in place, avoiding public places unless necessary. Streets have been very empty compared to before the pandemic. However, as time passes on, people have been growing restless. “As the weeks go by, I’ve noticed our business is increasing and we have offered more hours to our kitchen staff. I think the public is tired of sitting at home and wanting to get out of the house.” Mendoza observed. It seems evident that people are beginning to get more confident and go out to restaurants to get food, and more people are being seen out and about. Business is getting better for most restaurants who are remaining open.
Local businesses in Morro Bay and Los Osos have been hit hard during this time. Restaurants are fortunate to be allowed to serve food to-go to remain open, and are starting to open up to low capacity seating. Other businesses may not be so lucky, and we can only hope they are all able to reopen after the pandemic blows over.