As we continue to assess the damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and look for a path forward for our Santa Clarita business community, it’s clear that one of the industries that has been hit the hardest has been the restaurant industry, and more specifically, our local mom-and-pop restaurants.
Many of these smaller restaurants were forced to close their doors to the public in March and have since faced the challenge of reopening while following quickly moving public health guidelines.
Already struggling restaurant owners had whiplash earlier this summer when a relaxation of indoor dining regulations was swiftly followed by an order from Gov. Gavin Newsom that once again limited restaurants to takeout or delivery.
While our restaurants are limited in operations, the need to continue to pay rent and staff salaries, and the requirement to maintain compliance with new regulations has not gone away.
Now, faced with the added costs of setting up new and safe business operations, many mom-and-pop shops are unfortunately succumbing to the disruptions and burdens that have stemmed from this pandemic.
This is why the Santa Clarita Foodies Facebook group has been doing its best to support our local restaurants by highlighting those that are open and in need of our business during this crisis.
Originally set up as a place to share delicious food and new, local discoveries, we quickly pivoted during the pandemic and began operating as a platform to promote and direct business to restaurants in grave need of our support to survive.
With more than 15,000 members to date, our group has allowed the community at large to come together on social media and support their favorite local restaurants by shining a light on the hidden gems in our community who can no longer afford to remain our favorite “secret spot.”
According to Yelp’s Economic Average Report, California has the highest number of business closures in the country (29,351) while Los Angeles has the most business closures in the state (11,342).
Santa Clarita has not been spared from these numbers, as we’ve seen several local businesses shut down, unable to weather the burdens of the pandemic, including Sister House Thai Fusion. After seven years in business, the local favorite closed its doors on Aug. 23, making the tough decision to not renew their lease, but leaving hope to reopen again next year.
With these statistics in mind and the sobering loss of restaurants that are a part of the fabric of Santa Clarita, we feel that it’s up to our local community to find new ways to ensure that our remaining mom-and-pop businesses survive this crisis.
As the city of Santa Clarita is helping many restaurants with outdoor dining, our Facebook group is doing our part by sharing takeout menus, favorite dishes, specials, changes to operating hours and more.
We thank our Santa Clarita City Council members who have shown leadership in quickly addressing issues that have arisen for our restaurants during this crisis. By closing down Main Street in Old Town Newhall to traffic to allow for expanded outdoor dining operations, approving temporary use permits with a quick turnaround, and allowing businesses to expand outdoor operations at no charge, they are helping our restaurants survive.
Providing relief like this for the new financial burdens restaurants face as well as alleviating red tape that keeps local business owners from quickly complying with new regulations is critical during this time.
We invite Santa Clarita as a whole to join us in making this commitment to support our local restaurants. Whether it be through a weekly takeout purchase, or sharing your favorite go-to spot on social media, everyone has an opportunity to show these restaurants support.
For these businesses to survive this crisis, the support of our community is paramount. In every way possible, we must do our part to see these restaurants through this crisis and on to better days.
Todd Wilson is a local resident and founder of the Santa Clarita Foodies Facebook group and feedSCV.