ENCINO (CBSLA) — While the effects of the coronavirus pandemic continue to reverberate across the economy, perhaps the hardest hit workers have been those in the service industry.
“It hit us like a truck,” Nigel Davenport, owner of Davenport’s Restaurant in Encino, said. “Three days before, we were at full capacity, and then the health department shut us down.”
Davenport said after building the brand for the past three years, the decision to shut down completely was a tough one.
“The big part of it was consideration for the health of my staff,” he said. “Let’s not just do takeout for the sake of business. Let’s get everybody safe, everybody to get their benefits and their unemployment. I’d rather reopen at a date when I see a horizon.”
But now, as Los Angeles County slowly begins the reopening process, restaurant owners like Davenport are having to adapt to a new way of operating.
“We do have an advantage in this restaurant,” he said. “We have a big outdoor patio, and we have different rooms and we can sort of socially distance naturally.”
And while questions of how the restaurant will have to change its operations going forward remain, Davenport said he and his team were prepared to tackle them.
“We have a plan of action on all those things,” he said.
Though that does not mean reopening will be a smooth process, especially if Davenport’s has to decrease its capacity.
“The economics for any restaurant don’t work at 25%, it’s just not built that way,” he said. “It’s going to take partnerships … to be able to get through this.”
Davenport said he is prepared to weather the storm until it is completely safe to reopen, but that once they get the green light, the restaurant will be back up and serving the community immediately.
“I’m confident in the brand,” Davenport said. “I’m confident in the restaurant. I know that we’re going to come out of this.”
On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to seek state approval to authorize the reopening of more businesses, such as dine-in restaurants and hair salons, though the county’s health officer may add additional restrictions on such operations.