WEST HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA) — In a three-month period, Nancy Silverton faced the closure of her three restaurants due to the coronavirus pandemic, contracted COVID-19 and then had to shut down her restaurants again after they were looted and burned in widespread unrest following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.
The James Beard Award-winning chef said, “2020 has been a rollercoaster” — a high point coming when she was allowed to reopen her three wildly popular restaurants on the corner on Melrose and Highland avenues for in-person dining.
But days later, she tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
“To my shock, because I had no symptoms,” she said. “So I am certainly one of the lucky ones.”
The chef who is heavily involved in the day-to-day operations of her restaurants said her three-week in-home quarantine left her feeling a little stir-crazy.
“I’m not used to spending time in Los Angeles at my house,” she said. “I’m used to being at my other home, which is my restaurants.”
But shortly after returning to the restaurants, she watched live on television as one went up in flames.
“I saw the fire being lit,” she said.
Between the fire and subsequent looting, she said there was half a million dollars in damage.
“When people are angry, it’s manifested in all different ways,” she said.
But now she’s back to serving take-out and offering outdoor dining in a former parking lot and storage area and her employees prepare lunch every day for fellow restaurant workers who remain unemployed.
“Any time we are able to lend that helping hand, it makes all of us feel good,” she said.
Pre-pandemic, Silverton said her three restaurants employed 160 people and, on their busiest days, could serve more than 900 customers, but now she has about 50 employees and serves 125 diners on a good night.
“To be able to survive, that’s the mode,” she said. “We are not in profitability, it’s just survival.”
And while Silverton said she was not bitter or angry about what has happened, she said she never wants to go through what she’s experienced in the past five months ever again.