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A Q&A About the Current Times and the Past Year

Written By: LOCALE Editors  Orange County Restaurant Owners

We recently checked in with local Orange County restaurant owners to see how they are actually doing. Below, check out their honest and unfiltered answers that include a variety of thoughts from the current times and this past year. 

“Order takeout in person. Delivery companies take a big commission.” – Wing Lam

 

Ed Moffatt: Common Room Roasters

Q: How are you doing? Health wise and financially?

A: “I’m doing ok. Health wise, I’m feeling pretty good, I’ve been trying to get down to the beach and the parks as much as possible. With so much screen time, this has been crucial for me to balance it all out. Financially, we are actually doing okay. As we are a wholesale supplier, we are heavily reliant on the success of our wholesale clients, so we have a lot to thank them for, as the orders keep rolling in.” 

Q: What is something good that has come out of 2020? 

A: “This year has brought us all together tighter as a group. Don’t worry, we all still socially distance! We have really got to know our staff, cafe customers and wholesale clients on a much deeper level as we have all navigated this together. We have seen an amazing rise in our e-commerce sales, engagement and overall online interaction with our brand. It’s really pleasing to see people get set up at home with espresso machines, brewing gear, coffee subscriptions, etc.”

Q: What is the biggest thing someone can do to help your business now and with this new lockdown? 

A: “There are so many ways to help out. Come to the Common Room Roasters tasting room or find a cafe serving CRR and just buy a coffee, jump online and buy some beans for home, send a gift subscription to someone, load up a gift card, tip your server a bit extra, buy some merch, leave a nice review, share on social media. All of this makes a huge difference. This year, the people have been amazing the way they have rallied around us and all restaurants in general, we really appreciate it.” 

Common Room Roasters
882 Production Pl
Newport Beach, CA 92663
949.220.7868

“This year, the people have been amazing the way they have rallied around us and all restaurants in general, we really appreciate it.”  -Ed Moffatt

 

 

Paul Taddeo: Haute Cakes Caffe Orange County Restaurant Owners

Q: How are you doing? Health wise and financially?

A: “Financially, the business is doing better than expected. Customers have been so supportive. We are truly blessed. Health is surprisingly good. I would say I’m happier than the last few years because I’m more grateful for what we have and not worrying about the B.S.” 

Q: What is something good that has come out of 2020? 

A: First off, the birth of our granddaughter, spending more time with family and an increased appreciation of customers and staff.” 

Q: What is the biggest thing someone can do to help your business now and with this new lockdown? 

A: The biggest thing customers can do is wear a mask, be kind and patient, and show the love.” 

Haute Cakes Caffe
1807 Westcliff Dr
Newport Beach, CA 92660
949.642.4114

“…wear a mask, be kind and patient, and show the love.” – Paul Taddeo

Ron Salisbury: The Cannery, El Cholo, Louie’s by the Bay

Q: How are you doing? Health wise and financially?

A: “Personally, I’m feeling feelings I never have before. There is a joy that comes from positivity, and no matter how difficult things might be at the time in the restaurant business, there’s always a nice little package of fun you could find on the mess that you fed on–it’s very difficult to find now. I feel as if I’m on a sailing ship, it’s a huge storm and the ship is getting tossed around. We’re throwing stuff overboard to survive, the may just broke…but somewhere not too far off the sun is shining.” 

Q: What is something good that has come out of 2020? 

A: “We are discovering great new ideas we never would have in ordinary times; ways of operating, new ways of utilizing talents of staff, the magic of outside dining is a unique one. At El Cholo on Western Ave., the idea to rip the roof off a used brick building next door that we were using for office and storage, opening windows to the street and creating an incredible European style outdoor garden dining area. It was 45 years since we did anything dramatic to it, and it was needed!” 

Q: What is the biggest thing someone can do to help your business now and with this new lockdown? 

A: “Support some of the hopefully creative things we do to stay relative and keep our staff employed.” 

The Cannery
3010 Lafayette Ave
Newport Beach, CA 92663
949.566.0060
El Cholo 
3520 East Coast Hwy
Corona del Mar, CA 92625
949.777.6137
Louie’s by the Bay 
2801 West Coast Hwy
Newport Beach, CA 92663
949.720.1800

“We are discovering great new ideas we never would have in ordinary times; ways of operating, new ways of utilizing talents of staff, the magic of outside dining is a unique one.” – Ron Salisbury

Chance Owen: Landers Liquor Bar Orange County Restaurant Owners

Q: How are you doing? Health wise and financially?

A: “Landers Liquor Bar is online in our second year and hangin’ in there financially. The initial PPP loan helped, but also was not near enough to make up for the loss in sales. We have dedicated and resilient employees. We set up protocols and stayed diligent to the COVID-19 guidelines and fortunately, we’ve not had a single positive case of COVID-19 through November. We are one of a very few restaurants that is 100% outdoors already, which has been a benefit to us as far as staying open and exercising social distancing. We’ve gotten a bit better at general cleaning protocols and regularity.”

Landers Liquor Bar
2101 Harbor Blvd
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
714.714.0086

 

Maribel Avila Ley: Avila’s El Ranchito Orange County Restaurant Owners

Q: How are you doing? Health wise and financially?

A: “Overall, we are ok! The year has required more energy than years past, since we have been creating all new takeout and dining experiences. Normally, the years go by as planned, with a pretty predictable pattern. Nothing has been predictable about 2020. I guess you can say we are all a bit exhausted. Financially, some locations are doing better than others, mostly dependent on the success and popularity of our outdoor dining. We are very blessed that most of our locations have parking lots that we are able to utilize. Some other restaurants are not as lucky.” 

Q: What is something good that has come out of 2020? 

A: “As an Avila Family as a whole, we have all worked together to help each other in all aspects of this pandemic, whether it was creating takeout family meals, improving our outdoor dining, sending each other supplies and employees giving each other advice on COVID updates. Our family is communicating now more than we ever have. Personally, I have learned to slow down and be happy with the simple things in life. Before this, we were go, go, go all of the time between travel and social life. I have learned to appreciate my health, my family and my home.” 

Q: What is the biggest thing someone can do to help your business now and with this new lockdown? 

A: “Right now, just continue to call in your takeout orders. We have done the best we can to make it as seamless as possible. Each one of my employees would not have a job without our loyal customers. We are so grateful for every takeout or dine-in customer because we know you can all just cook at home. On behalf of my entire family, we thank you so much for choosing us.” 

Avila’s El Ranchito
Various locations

“Right now, just continue to call in your takeout orders…” – Monica Avila Ley

Andrew Dorsey: SOCIAL Kitchen + Craft Bar

Q: How are you doing? Health wise and financially?

A: “We are hanging in there. Pure survival mode at this point. The physical, mental and emotional stress is a lot to handle during this time. I try to stay positive and keep the vibrations high. Financially, we are just jogging in place most of the time. As soon as we get back to full strength and hire all employees back they seem to shut us down again. Compared to last year, we have lost over 50% of our sales.”

Q: What is something good that has come out of 2020? 

A: “I think 2020 has truly been a “great awakening” for many people. We typically never get to press pause on life and get off the hamster wheel. We truly have time to reflect on our life and explore our spirituality.” 

Q: What is the biggest thing someone can do to help your business now and with this new lockdown? 

A: “I think since we will be forced to just do takeout again, people can support by doing to-go food orders and purchasing our “Anti-Social” large format to-go cocktails. Purchasing gift cards for Christmas is also a big help.” 

SOCIAL Costa Mesa
512 W 19th St
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
949.642.2425
SOCIAL Huntington Beach
21214 Beach Blvd
Huntington Beach, CA 92648 
714.374.7715

 

Wing Lam: Wahoo’s Fish Taco Orange County Restaurant Owners

Q: How are you doing? Health wise and financially?

A: “Wife has been doing great–she switched from spin class to running on the beach. I’m surfing a lot more than hitting the gym. We have definitely taken a hit financially because we have chosen to take care of our team.” 

Q: What is something good that has come out of 2020? 

A: “The best thing was creating the CA Love drop team (#calovedrop) with Wendy/Heidi and Frank from KLOS, Eric from Blue C, Charles from Antis Roofing, Melissa from Yogurtland, Mark from Monster Energy Drink, Danielle from Cholula, Matt and Jen from EDS, Brad from Could Repro and Paul from Hint.” 

Q: What is the biggest thing someone can do to help your business now and with this new lockdown? 

A: “Order takeout in person. Delivery companies take a big commission.”

Wahoo’s Fish Taco
Various locations

 

Matt Meddock: Sessions West Coast Deli

Q: How are you doing? Health wise and financially?

A: “The businesses are holding up. We have seen an outpouring of support in our local communities who have decided to “shop small”. When we thought we might need to shut the doors, the phone just kept ringing with orders. When people are buying a sandwich or a pizza, or anything from their local shop, they are doing so much more than they know.” 

Q: What is something good that has come out of 2020? 

A: “What is good that has come out of 2020 is that we’ve seen people come together. I personally fired myself so our staff could keep working. Our teams have adapted against adversity, communicated well and come together. Our culture has never been stronger, and we’ve seen leaders become leaders. It’s really been amazing to watch.” 

Q: What is the biggest thing someone can do to help your business now and with this new lockdown? 

A: “The biggest thing someone can do to help our business is really show up and grab a bite. Something else that people can do to help their favorite businesses is promote them on their social media–it’s free, and it goes such a long way.” 

Sessions West Coast Deli
Various locations 

“…promote them on their social media–it’s free, and it goes such a long way.” – Matt Meddock

Jeff Chon: Tabu Shabu, Oak and Coal

Q: How are you doing? Health wise and financially?

A.  Awful. Financially sales are down anywhere from 50-75%. Mentally employees struggle with fear of the virus and even more so fear of their futures and job security.

Q. What is something good that has come out of 2020?

A. Nothing.

Q.  Q: What is the biggest thing someone can do to help your business now and with this new lockdown? 

A.  Be active in their local political arenas to combat governmental restrictions. This isn’t a problem solved by buying more gift cards. Even if I sold 50 gift cards a day, we would still have compiling debt and my employees still won’t be able to pay their bills. I wish people would stop saying stupid things like, “shop small”. How the hell are people supposed to shop small when we are closed. This is stupid rhetoric that gets nowhere.

Tabu Shabu 
333 E 17th St, Ste 19
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
949.642.2660
Oak and Coal 
333 E 17th St Ste 2
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
949.287.6150

 

Rob Arellano: Descanso

Q: How are you doing? Health wise and financially?

A: “Health is fine (other than more stress and anxiety than I have ever experienced), but financially we are getting crushed. We were doing good with 25% indoor dining, patio and takeout. But just patio and takeout is difficult to make ends meet. Just takeout is almost impossible. 

Q: What is something good that has come out of 2020? 

A: “It was a great opportunity to look at my business model differently. Also, it gave me an opportunity to improve my business and find better, more efficient ways of doing things.” 

Q: What is the biggest thing someone can do to help your business now and with this new lockdown? 

A: “If and when the lockdown goes into effect, the best thing someone can do is order takeout and/or buy a gift card. The more business I can sustain, the more opportunities I have to keep staff employed and the business running.” 

Descanso
1555 Adams Ave, Ste 103
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
714.486.3798

 

“It was a great opportunity to look at my business model differently. Also, it gave me an opportunity to improve my business and find better, more efficient ways of doing things.” – Rob Arellano