Pasadena restaurants teeter in COVID-19 balance – Pasadena Now


Many local restaurants are struggling to stay alive during the coronavirus pandemic, unsure whether they will be able to survive much longer on takeout and delivery orders.

“It’s tough. I’ve done this for the community and we have to be positive in life,” said Calogero Drago, owner of Celestino Ristorante fine dining at 141 S. Lake Ave. in Pasadena, who said that he had never made “take-out” orders before the stay-at-home mandate.

It was either adapt or close.

“I didn’t do the three lessons. I just made a nice and beautiful menu, ”said Drago. Pasadena now. “Chicken, fish, pasta, dish of the day. You have four different types of pasta, you have two risottos, you have one gluten free, vegan… everything. So we’ll see. We will try this new model, hope it will work.

“We have to look forward because it’s sad the situation right now, in a minute the world has changed,” Drago added.

At the end of March, Gale Kohl closed Gale’s restaurant so that employees could be with their families.

“During the closure, we cleaned, disinfected and disinfected the whole restaurant. We reopened the restaurant on April 28, ”Kohl told Pasadena Now in an email. “I had to think long and hard about the best thing to do. My employees were all feeling well and wanted to return to work. I looked at everything and knew that unless we reopened on time, we probably wouldn’t be able financially to reopen our doors. The cost of simply closing the doors is enormous. Most restaurants couldn’t last very long. At this point, I plan to continue, supporting my staff and the community. I have been doing this for almost 19 years and I have no plans to close my doors.

Last week, the Pasadena Economic Development and Technology Committee asked the City Manager’s office to report with specific recommendations on how restaurants and other businesses can reopen for on-site dining in the coming weeks while maintaining social distancing and other safety and health protocols.

It’s unclear when City Manager Steve Mermell will submit his report to the EDTECH committee, but he told members he will try to get them something as early as this shortened vacation week.

One of the many options the city is considering is allowing restaurants to set up alfresco dining in parking lots, alleys, sidewalks and parking lots, with the on-street parking area spanning 8 feet from the sidewalk.

“We’ll probably have some nice outdoor tents that we hang up with chandeliers and make them very inviting,” said Gregg Smith, co-owner of Arroyo Chop House at 536 S. Arroyo Pkwy.

“We don’t have city guidelines yet, so we don’t really know what the rest will be like,” said Smith, who, along with his brother, Bob, owns three restaurants in Pasadena. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we had to put plexiglass partitions. “

“I bet you’re going to see that 35-40% of Pasadena retailers won’t reopen.” Smith added. “And the longer this continues, the more casualties we’re going to see in retail. And I mean all retail businesses, not just restaurants… the survivors will be the ones who make customers feel safe, healthy and secure.

“Business owners are throwing away any possible idea that will give them a decent chance to get their businesses back online and survive,” said City Councilor Andy Wilson, member of the EDTECH committee. “If restaurants are only allowed to operate a small percentage of their capacity, can they even afford to reopen?

“If the public isn’t sure they’ll be safe, then businesses don’t work because they don’t have customers,” Wilson added. “We have to make sure that we open them up, helping these businesses get back online, that we do that in a way that customers can be sure they’re taking advantage of these businesses, these restaurants and these services, otherwise they’ll ‘ not going to appear.

In addition to the cost of implementing new safety and health measures, businesses face an increase in the minimum wage in the city of Pasadena to $ 15 an hour on July 1.

“I would suggest that city council consider a 12-month hiatus from raising the minimum wage to allow businesses to rebuild themselves and reassure their customers that they are safe, clean and happy to welcome them again,” he said. declared former restaurateur Robin Salzer. Recount Pasadena now. “Employees are hurting, businesses are hurting and we as a city are hurting. “

“Everyone is already in trouble and everyone has already laid off most of their employees,” said Marc Canter, owner of the famous Canter’s Deli in Los Angeles, which operates a satellite in Pasadena from Kitchen United at 55 S Madison Ave. worse right now. I can’t imagine the city would enforce this during this pandemic. “

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