The Small Business Struggle in Wake of COVID-19

Olivia Solomon, Advertisement Chair

COVID-19 has created a worldwide pandemic, forcing millions of people to use social distancing and self-quarantining to flatten the curve of this virus. As a result, no one can casually walk into their local bookstores for a browse or stop by their favorite restaurant for a bite to eat. In the past month since the pandemic reached the U.S., small businesses find themselves suddenly empty without funds to pay bills or give their employees a paycheck. 

As a result, local restaurants and other small businesses have taken matters into their own hands by providing delivery or pick-up service only. However, this situation still proves a scary time for small businesses everywhere. 

For Katerina Albanis, Maria’s Greek Restaurant does not only serve as a job for her and her husband, but a family tradition that started with her grandmother in 1982 and immerses the entire family in their Greek roots. 

“The ability that a small restaurant business can be a part of a community’s character and interact with their neighbors on both a business and personal level is something remarkable,” Albanis said. “I believe all the diversity of cuisines offered on Coral Way alone gives the neighborhood flavor and a sweet homey feel. Everyone has a story to tell and is living an American dream.”

As these local businesses struggle to stay afloat, social media and the news continues to encourage people to remember the significance of locally-owned small businesses and support them by taking advantage of delivery services and pick-up options. These establishments serve the community around them and offer a friendly and familial service that tends to lack in business today.

“Anyone who walks into Maria’s — or any local restaurant — [knows that] the staff is polite, the owner is present and friendly and customers always feel welcome,” Albanis said. “When you get to know small businesses, you’ll find a variety of nice gestures and wonderful surprises — the owner slips you an extra dessert or glass of wine, the waiter or waitress remembers all of your special family milestones.”

While businesses like Maria’s Greek Restaurant continue to try their hardest to complete deliveries and maintain some sort of revenue, this remains catastrophic for all small businesses, and another month of this new normal can come with devastating consequences.  

“Business is down 80-90%. We are trying to be patient and take it day by day. We remain open to serve our kind and loyal customers and to retain our employees. But, we are not making any profits and barely covering expenses,” Albanis said.

Another local business, Dream Dinners Pinecrest, continues to prepare frozen meals for families and give them a home-cooked meal as their mission from the beginning. However, this proves no easy task, as the world and manufacturing has dwindled down over the past few weeks.

“We have been impacted in many different aspects. With processing plants and manufacturers closing and downsizing on a daily basis, we have had to constantly adapt to fulfill our orders,” owner Nina Ortiz said. 

As this pandemic rages on, businesses muddle through with hope and a positive outlook for the future. But they cannot do it without the help and support of the communities they serve. 

“There is no denying this is a scary and unpredictable time. The only things we can do [are]  stay positive, keep taking every precaution and continue providing a much needed service,” Ortiz said. “Continue shopping with your local businesses. Follow them on social media to stay connected and choose to put your dollars towards their services over a large chain. Small businesses are the heart and soul of a community.”