Looking to the day when California’s shelter-in-place order is lifted, Paine’s Restaurant owner John Kouretas wonders how long his business can survive without hosting banquets and other services.
“I don’t know how long I can sustain this kind of menu and this kind of volume,” Kouretas said. “I would say probably another two or three weeks.”
Despite being open for take-out, he said that’s only enough to maintain his staff—for now. As time passes, Paine’s is seeing less business, Kouretas said.
“Our volume has gone up, but our numbers are down as far as profits,” Kouretas said.
Kouretas said that events canceled from March through July account for about $100,000 of his business.
“For a restaurant, it’s big,” he said.
Local businesses worked to adhere to the guidelines set forth in San Benito County’s shelter-in-place order on March 17. The county is now following state guidelines set by Gov. Gavin Newsom. For Kouretas, working under both orders has been a balancing act of keeping the restaurant afloat, providing hours for his staff, and helping the community.
His efforts have not gone unnoticed by employees. Mary Pendelton, who’s worked at Paine’s for 25 years, said the hours that she is able to work—along with the tips from customers—is enough for her to get by during the pandemic.
“I can’t afford not to work,” Pendelton said, adding that she helps other family members financially. “And I think that’s part of why John is doing this, is to help the community and help his staff that has been there for many years.”
When the shelter-in-place took effect, Paine’s changed its menu and reduced some of its prices. The restaurant now offers a $12 meal menu.
Despite the changes, Kouretas has had to lay off about 25% of his employees. Those who are still working have seen their hours cut.
To keep his remaining staff employed, Kouretas recently applied for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) through the Small Business Administration. The PPP is a loan that becomes forgivable provided that employees are kept on payroll for eight weeks and the funds are used for payroll, utilities, rent, or mortgage payments.
Kouretas received about $30,000, which he said he took directly to the bank.
“We were fortunate enough to get that. It really helped a lot,” he said.
Pendelton said it’s been different working in a restaurant restricted to pick-up orders. Though the employees protect themselves and customers by wearing masks, constantly washing their hands and sanitizing all surfaces, she said she missed waiting tables.
“It’s more personal,” she said.
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