SEAL BEACH, Calif. - Hours before sweeping new health restrictions went into effect for Southern California counties, diners and shoppers took advantage of soon-to-be-unavailable services while business owners prepared for yet more changes.
“We’ve just been kind of rolling with the punches and just kind of taking it a day at a time, and I think that’s the best approach to do because there’s been so much uncertainty,” said Craig Lyon, owner of Catrina Cafe on Main Street in Seal Beach.
The restaurant has been open for a little over a year, and he and his staff are used to being thrown curveballs during this pandemic.
“Your first year open is crazy to begin with, so this has made that tenfold, pretty much,” he said.
Diners filled every table at the cafe’s newly-constructed outdoor seating area on Sunday, enjoying their last meal out before the new mandates are put in place. Despite going back to a take-out or delivery-only model on Monday, Lyon is cautiously confident that his loyal customers will help get the restaurant through the next three weeks.
“Main Street Seal Beach is very much a tight-knit community and we’re all in this together, and I think it’s gotten us all closer - it’s gotten the community closer,” he said. “They’ll do whatever they need to keep us going and we’ll be here the whole time - we’ll be here waiting for them to come back and serve more bottomless mimosas and everything else!”
Other business owners on Main Street agree, and believe that their loyal customers will help keep them afloat regardless of what happens during the new lockdown.
“I hope we’re going to be able to stay open because we survived,” said Jacqueline Kanawati, owner of the boutique J. Ensemble, detailing all of the changes she made to keep her doors open during the pandemic.
Kanawati said that she followed all safety protocols, pivoted from selling dresses and more professional pieces to cozier, sportier attire, and has offered deep discounts to keep customers coming in while maintaining strict capacity limits. Her hard work apparently paid off - she said that her sales in November of 2020 were actually higher than they were in November of 2019.
“I think people were frustrated from staying home and they were like eager to shop,” she said.
Business was so good that she recently ordered a vast amount of inventory, but with stay-at-home orders looming, she isn’t sure what to expect in the coming weeks.
Just outside the boutique’s doors, Silvia Faris enjoyed the last meal out with friends and family, dressed head-to-toe in pieces from J. Ensemble. She intends to continue propping up local small businesses as much as possible while also following the state’s safety mandates.
“It’s not that much of a sacrifice to stay home,” she said. “We’ll support them - we’ll keep supporting them by taking out and taking home.”