The effects of the pandemic have sparked a large amount of resiliency from the community.
At the Carlmont Shopping Center in Belmont, California, many businesses are looking toward the future while dealing with COVID-19. The first wave of the virus caused many difficult adjustments for most businesses. Despite the challenges, they have also improved in some ways.
As Belmont citizens become more comfortable with the idea of outdoor dining, more restaurants have started to open back up. Restaurants at the Carlmont Shopping Center have expanded their outdoor seating, allowing for a more comfortable and safe environment for customers and workers.
“We are fortunate to have a beautiful outdoor area. Even during cold weather, people still enjoy eating outside,” said Kevin Sheehan, a manager at the Waterdog Tavern.
Although increased outdoor seating has been beneficial for most businesses, losing a regular customer base, especially elderly patrons, has created new challenges and opportunities. Ladera Garden and Gifts, a plant nursery at Carlmont Shopping Center, used to have many customers from an older generation. Since this group is one of the most vulnerable to COVID-19, Ladera’s customer base has changed.
“Now, we get more younger people coming in than people from the older generation. However, under these circumstances, older people like to call in, and we will gladly deliver their items to them,” said Ruby Vogul, an employee at Ladera Garden.
The lack of in-person learning resulting from the virus has led to other customer changes for businesses at Carlmont Shopping Center as well.
Numerous schools are located nearby the center, so kids would often come to grab a bite to eat and socialize. For many restaurants, a large portion of business came from hungry students. Now, with students learning from home, companies like Coyote’s Mexican Cafe are attracting a different kind of group.
“We were getting many kids from the middle schools and high schools during the workdays, and now we are getting many construction workers. They often do work at the shopping center so that they will come during lunchtime.” said Max Mozayani, the owner of Coyote’s Mexican Cafe.
With the apparent change in crowds and the profit loss from fewer customers, these local businesses continue to make adjustments to create a safe environment for customers and staff.
Carlmont Shopping Center business owners benefit from a welcoming community through supportive gestures of their customers. These businesses and their customers demonstrate a resilient spirit by not facing these problems apart but by pulling together to help one another.
In looking toward the future, Emily Myrizis, the owner of Unseen Addiction, thinks about remaining safe and staying open. “We have to be safe and think about other people,” Myrizis said. “All of these small businesses around here want to stay open and thrive. So later on, we are hoping to see strong but steady growth for everyone.”