By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — One year after the COVID pandemic forced business owners to suddenly shut down, many are getting back on their feet now that some restrictions have been lifted.

It was music to Jodi Schilling’s ears as students returned to her dance studio, Releve.

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“We opened up inside last week and it was glorious, Schilling said. “I got teary-eyed to see all the children together again. It was touching.”

Schilling built her studio in Northridge last year and opened the doors just three weeks before the pandemic forced them to close.

When CBSLA’s Kristine Lazar asked, “During this pandemic, were there times you didn’t think you would make it to this day?” Schilling said, “Every month. Every month I thought I would lose my business.”

Lazar talked to Schilling back in July of 2020 when she decided to turn her dance school into a learning pod for children who weren’t back to school. It was her last-ditch effort to save her studio.

“I feel like I was extremely resilient and very pivotal,” she said. “Every month I had to be very creative to bring in money. I even wrote a book and started selling books on dance.”

Back in September, Tony Konnaris stood crying in his empty dining room at the Greek restaurant, Firehouse Taverna, which he opened in 1995. He was worried he would lose his business and have to move back to Greece.

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But today, he says his employees are back and his doors will stay open.

“I am very happy that I was able to save the business, save their jobs and my house and my family,” Konnaris said.

Though Konnaris can only seat four tables because of COVID capacity requirements, he was able to add a space for outdoor tables in the parking lot.

After profiling Firehouse Aaverna back in September, Konnaris says people rallied around his restaurant, flooding it with take-out orders and even sending in donations.

Some of those came from people who don’t even live in the area, including a grandmother from Arizona

“She sent me a check of $25, and she said on the check, ‘That’s all I can afford, but I see you and it’s heartbreaking and I want to do my part.'”

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An unexpected but welcomed side effect of COVID — a community coming together.