‘Non-essential’ businesses optimistic after re-opening
Wednesday, June 3, 2020
Two weeks after “non-essential” businesses were allowed to reopen -- as some restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus were eased -- owners say they are following new public safety guidelines and are looking forward to making good money again.
“It’s the first step of reopening, but it will get better,” said Lucas Bedoya, owner of The Fade Shop barbers in the Park Centre Shops in Miami Lakes.
Bedoya and other small business owners have adapted after the number of customers allowed inside retail shops and restaurants was reduced to 50 percent of what had been previously allowed.
Capacity at personal grooming salons was cut to 25 percent.
Safety measures – including signs that enforce social distancing, instructing visitors and employees to wear masks and providing hand sanitizer while disinfecting premises to protect the health of the public and staffers – have added to the costs of doing business.
But it’s better than staying closed.
Bedoya said in the first week he reopened his doors, he had 150 customers.
Then it slowed down, with just 50 customers served by mid-week.
Three days of torrential rain during the Memorial Day weekend hurt a lot of businesses, Bedoya said.
So has consumer confidence that they’ll be OK while going out in public.
Bedoya was used to serving 600 clients per week before the pandemic.
Still, he was optimistic that his business will recover.
“In about a month, we should be getting back to normal,” Bedoya said.
Across town at Susette Coiffeur in the Red
Palmetto Shoppes, owner Susette Portilla said her hair and nail salon was not suffering.
Though, like The Fade Shop, she has cut the number of staffers per shift in half to comply with social distancing guidelines.
“We’re doing really well,” said Portilla. “We are operating at our best with the restrictions.”
Portilla said each day, she takes the temperature of her employees to make sure they don’t have a symptom of the COVID-19 virus.
“We are doing everything to make sure our business is safe for our employees and customers,” she said.
The pandemic has changed the ambiance of barbershops and beauty salons, where trading gossip and debating the news of the day is part of the experience.
Now, Portilla and Bedoya don’t accept walk-in clients and their waiting areas are closed.
Customers who arrive early must stay outside until it is their turn in a stylist’s chair.
Restaurants are also standing by, ready to welcome more diners.
At Anacapri Italian restaurant on Main Street, the business is experiencing highs and lows.
Its singers and musicians are performing for diners seated at 10 tables inside, rather than 20 before the outbreak. And the restaurant’s peak weekend nights are slower, too.
“We are doing good but every day, we can have the unexpected [happen],” said Krystal Calveiro, a hostess and daughter of co-owner Jossel Calveiro. “Business is not doing bad, but we are not operating at our best with the restrictions.”
Still, Calveiro said she is getting good feedback from familiar faces.
“The customers are glad we are open for business,” she said.
Melissa Tur, a host and server at Beverly Hills Café in the Cypress Village Shopping Center said business is gradually picking up.
“The first few days were slow,” she said. “But as the days go by, we get a little bit more traffic each day.”
Bruce Lawrence, general manager of Shula’s Steak 2 on Main Street, said some customers don’t seem to be ready to dine out yet.
“Not a lot of traffic,” Lawrence said, though the restaurant continues to offer take-out each day from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and dine-in service from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m.
“Tuesday night, which didn’t rain, we had a decent crowd,” Lawrence said. “Some people are still not confident in going out to eat.”
One restauranteur was not yet prepared to open his dining room but hoped to by early June.
Philip Kalhor, who owns Ken and Mike’s Pizza in the Windmill Gate Shopping Center, said he needs more time to make slight renovations to comply with safety guidelines.
He removed six tables, leaving just six, and also took out a booth to maintain six feet between tables.
And he said he is spending more money than usual as he buys more disposable utensils and containers.
“It’s costing me, but we need to comply as we go along,” he said.
Kalhor said his restaurant has been able to survive the dreary months of the pandemic with take-out and delivery service.
“We had some productive business,” he said.
Reporter Megan Jacobo contributed to this report.
Barber Johnathan Moscoso tends to a young client on May 18 at The Fade shop in Miami Lakes.
Photo courtesy of Lucas Bedoya.