Studio City businesses struggle amid pandemic

Liam Razmjoo

Five months after restaurants reopened for outdoor dining in Los Angeles, the economy is slowly climbing back to where it was before the pandemic.

Yet with many shops and offices closed, widespread layoffs mean that many people can no longer afford to spend money at the same rate they could before the pandemic.

Ultimate Cleaners owner Sheri Stearns said she has had to make difficult decisions to keep her company afloat.

“Business has been down 50% to 60% since the [COVID-19] shutdown,” Stearns said. “Unfortunately, we have had to lay off a few of our longtime employees. We have also had to reduce employee hours down to about 30 hours a week.”

Small business owners are still trying to help other local businesses

Stearns said she has been trying to help local small businesses as much as she can by utilizing their services.

“We have been trying to support businesses by going out to restaurants once in a while because they are also in our shoes,” Stearns said.

In addition to service retail businesses, restaurants have also been significantly affected by the lack of consumer presence. Owner of Il Tramezzino Rick Walken said his restaurant has been struggling because of the pandemic.

“We have a reduced staff,” Walken said. “Since 40% to 50% of our sales are now online, we have to pay up to 30% to online companies. That takes a chunk out of our sales.”

Business owners anxious about health of employees

Apart from business instability, owners said they are apprehensive about the health and safety of both employees and consumers when they eventually reopen their establishments.

“We are primarily concerned with staff and customer safety,” Walken said. “Those two reasons are the primary reasons as to why we are sitting tight and waiting for this thing to pass and be sure that it is over.”