SAN DIEGO — All this week, News 8 will be putting the spotlight on small businesses struggling to stay afloat during the coronavirus crisis. Special stories will be featured nightly in our 6:30 p.m. newscast hoping to help drive up business and share important information.
Nearly two months after closing its doors due to the coronavirus lockdown, The Trails Eatery in San Carlos is finally back open, dishing out meals to customers. But despite opening back up, it still isn’t business as usual.
“We had to open this weekend or we weren’t going to be able to make it anymore,” said Stacey Poon-Kinney, the restaurant’s owner and head chef.
“We’ve never done business like this before,” she told News 8. “We are not a takeout restaurant, we are not a drive-through restaurant, we are a dine-in restaurant."
For many small, locally owned businesses, that’s their new reality. Finding ways to bring in revenue, despite the fact that the way you do business, has been turned upside down.
“We’ve been trying to support as many small businesses as we can during this time, just because I have a small business and I know what it feels like to be struggling at the moment,” said Aisha Salinas, who owns a local salon in Hillcrest.
While News 8 was getting ready to interview Poon-Kinney, customer Tony Orlando stopped by to grab some food and a $500 gift card.
“I wanted to do that because I know that cash upfront could really help them get a jump start,” Orlando said.
“That was really overwhelming. He’s going to buy a $500 gift card because he knows that we need access to that revenue right now,” Poon-Kinney said the gesture almost brought her to tears.
The Trails Eatery doesn’t use delivery apps but some local restaurants say they don’t have a choice. And the fees can add up – sometimes taking more than half a restaurant's profits or an order. Some owners call it a necessary evil in order to boost business.
“If you want to support small businesses, especially local restaurants that are independently owned, the most important thing they can do is order direct order - over the phone or online,” she said.
While turning to takeout has its growing pains, Poon-Kinney is just happy to be back serving her beloved community and customers.
"Just even to like wake up and have a place to go, all of this has been so wonderful," she said.
The Trails Eatery will be open from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. starting Monday. They’re offering a special menu and even dinner options.