I am both a cook and baker here in Santa Barbara. I currently work at Oat Bakery and Sama Sama Kitchen, and have previously worked at local establishments, including Tyger Tyger and Dune Coffee Roasters. I say all this to emphasize my perspective as someone who works in the food industry here in town, and also to speak for all my friends who are also in the hospitality industry.
Since Governor Newsom’s request for statewide closure of all beer/wine facilities this past Sunday, it comes as no surprise that all food establishments have taken a huge blow. Many restaurants in town haven’t been able to fill their dining rooms — not even close to the half capacity set by the governor. This, in turn, has forced many of these businesses to close their doors to diners, taking only delivery and take-out orders, causing a devastating plunge in sales. If business continues to drop, many of these local establishments will have no choice but to close their doors to business completely.
Numerous restaurants have already taken this course of action, leaving their employees scrambling, with many filing for unemployment. Businesses that remain open for the time being are struggling, especially those whose business relies on dine-in customers. There are also other factors to consider, such as the extra costs in place: the many more pairs of gloves, single use to-go boxes, paper towels, and cleaning supplies that they are using to ensure paramount cleanliness and sanitation to ensure safety for customers. This can be further overwhelming when you consider that many of these restaurants employ a currently obsolete Front of House staff. I am seeing how desperate restaurant owners are, unsure of how they will continue to pay their employees.
I don’t write this to overwhelm the reader. This is just honestly what these businesses are facing right now, and at times it can feel very grim. I hope that in sharing this, you can perhaps understand how it can feel for us behind restaurant doors, and with this information, you are motivated to consider helping us out a bit.
The bright side of all of this is that you as a consumer have many options to help. Here are some great ways to support your favorite local businesses: ordering take-out/delivery from your favorite restaurants, buying gift cards and merchandise from them, or purchasing your favorite products that they offer online. And please, consider tipping extra. We as cooks, bakers, baristas, bartenders, and waitresses are risking our health for the sake of business and for our paychecks. Working from home isn’t an option for us. We are grateful to have work, but there is no denying the risk we face from not being able to isolate.
So again I urge you, Santa Barbara resident, if you are able, please consider supporting your local food establishments. Maybe instead of heading to the grocery store to buy ingredients for a meal, you could place an online order and swing by your favorite local restaurant for dinner. Only if we stick together will be able to make it through all of these hard times. Your support right now means so much to us.