Are the businesses that made it this far safe?

Kristin Schwab Apr 19, 2021
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As the pandemic wanes, restaurants are seeing more customers. For some, staffing is a challenge. Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

Are the businesses that made it this far safe?

Kristin Schwab Apr 19, 2021
Heard on:
As the pandemic wanes, restaurants are seeing more customers. For some, staffing is a challenge. Arturo Holmes/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
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With the vaccination program progressing, the weather warming up and consumer spending increasing, there’s a lot of reason for business owners to feel optimistic about what’s ahead.

So if you’re a business owner who’s made it this far, is it safe to say you’re out of the woods?

The restaurant industry has been one of the worst hit by this pandemic’s economic woes.

We checked in with restaurant owners Monday to see how they’re feeling and what’s still keeping them up at night.

Ring the bells. Toss the confetti. Pop the good Champagne.  

“I’m ready to party, I’m ready to go,” Rayme Rossello said.

She is calling it. Her Mexican restaurant, Comida, in Aurora, Colorado, has survived. Between steady takeout orders and more people dining indoors again, she’s starting to see the return of pre-pandemic sales figures.

But it doesn’t mean business is easy. Like on Monday, Aurora was supposed to get up to 4 inches of snow, so no patio seating. And two staff members were out. One was isolating after a COVID-19 exposure at home. The other had appendicitis.

“It’s just, you know, it’s taxing on everybody, and I’ve wanted for people to not have to work any overtime so that we can ourselves stay healthy,” Rossello said.

David Audretsch, who edits the Small Business Economics journal at Indiana University, said businesses that entered the pandemic with a cash cushion, got Paycheck Protection Program loans or pivoted well, “compared to a year ago, yes many of them, they’re out of the woods. That’s for sure.”

And they’re dealing with a good problem, for a change: how to take advantage of the increasing demand they’ve been dreaming about.

“Actually, now the race is just starting,” Audretsch said.

Shaz Khan, in the Twin Cities region of Minnesota, is trying to win that race through expansion. He co-owns Tono Pizzeria and Cheesesteaks, provider of takeout-friendly food.

“From a business standpoint, now is certainly the time,” Khan said.

He got a good deal on a new space and is opening a third restaurant. But he needs to hire 30 employees and can’t find enough qualified workers.

Khan sighed. “It’s certainly slowed things down, and I mean we might be delaying our opening.”

A new pizza shop, and no one to make the pizzas.

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