As Los Angeles County approaches the six-month mark since the stay-at-home order was put in place, shuttering businesses of all types, many of those who have yet to be given the green light to reopen are at risk of closing their doors for good, including the Mountasia Family Fun Center.
“One of our options at this point is to try to find a buyer, but barring a Hail Mary at this point, we won’t be able to reopen,” said Michael Fleming, general managing partner at Mountasia. “August was going to be our 25th year in Santa Clarita. We had planned a monthlong celebration, and it was just surreal to be there in a closed building with nobody there.”
Like many other business owners, Fleming thought that in the worst-case scenario the center would be closed for three, maybe four, months.
“If we were able to open, we would be able to get through this,” he added. “This could easily go well into November — no business is going to survive that. This is going to be a tough time. There’s a lot of people out of work.”
The center did everything it could to hang on as long as possible, applying for grants and other funding opportunities, even dipping into Fleming’s personal funds, but Fleming says he just can’t go anymore.
“I’m watching my checking account going down the drain, and so many are in the same boat, living paycheck to paycheck — now there’s no paycheck,” he said. “There’s not going to be a whole lot left, and it’s such a shame because that doesn’t have to happen, that’s the saddest part.”
With COVID-19 figures coming down and more than half of Mountasia’s facility being outdoors, Fleming believes it should be allowed to reopen, even partially.
“The way Mountasia is set up, we should be able to open,” he added. “I’m all for keeping people healthy … (but) I feel like I’m being treated like a child, as do many people.”
By now, most understand the dangers of COVID-19, he added.
“If I go outside … to a restaurant, to a store, to Mountasia, I’m going to be taking a risk, but I don’t think it’s right for someone to make the decision for me.”
Fleming hopes more can join in in making their voices heard, calling on local elected officials to allow businesses to open. “That’s the only way there will be change.”