The Serving Spoon restaurant in Inglewood struggling during pandemic; asks for help

The Serving Spoon, a well-known restaurant in Inglewood, is struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic and asked the community for help through a GoFundMe page.

The restaurant is owned by husband and wife pair, J.C. and Angela Johnson. It was opened 37 years ago in 1983 by Angela's father, Harold Sparks. The Johnsons took it over in 2004.

"We've had people who've gotten married out of here. We've had receptions here. We've had people who almost had babies in here and I'm like you have to get your grits and go. We've had so many different stories. The possibilities are endless and it's a rock in the community. They [community members] come here to mourn. They come here to celebrate. They come here to just be. This is a safe space. We have all walks of life coming through here," said Angela.  

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The restaurant applied for a PPP loan early during the pandemic and received some funds.  

"It was a short period of time before those funds actually ran out because if you did the right way, it wasn't going to cover you for an extended period of time. We had no idea that the pandemic would be lasting this long so after those funds did run out, we went back into our personal account," said J.C.

Though they are seeing fewer customers, their costs are still increasing.

They spent money on tents for outdoor dining that they are not able to use now.

"The customer base was declining, but our food costs went up," said J.C.

"It's very scary and unpredictable and especially when we've been predictable. We've been consistent. We've been steady. We've been a pillar in the community and it's like now all this craziness and it's just from day to day you just don't know what's going to happen," said Angela.

With the outdoor and indoor dining bans, the restaurant is relying on take-out orders only, and the restaurant is fighting to stay open and provide for its staff of about 15.

"Then it's like the pressure, and I'm like we can't close because then it's like what are they gonna do. I ultimately was like we need help. We need to help us and we need to help our staff and we need to help other people. It's a horrible thing to need help and can't get it," said Angela.

Angela decided to make a GoFundMe page, asking the community for help through a video, and it is receiving attention from community members and celebrities like Matthew Cherry, the creator of "Hair Love."

"I had no idea it was going to go like this. People have been amazing. They've been coming in, purchasing food and giving money and donating on GoFundMe and we're just overwhelmed," said Angela.

The Johnson's said they normally are the givers so it was difficult to ask for help.

"My wife nor I are looking for something in return. We didn't do what we did or have done what we've done because we're looking for reciprocity, but we do it because it's the right thing to do," said J.C.

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