The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Local businesses bear the brunt of post-pandemic financial pain

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN
Emily Castillo
This is the sign of the family owned business, the Scarlett Begonia. The restaurant is still sanding strong after the COVID pandemic.

When walking up or down State Street several years ago, you would have seen lots of stores and other businesses full of customers making good profit. However, that is not the case today.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the local favorite spots and shops in Santa Barbara struggled with a couple of issues of their own. There was a change in activity when State Street opened back up. Because of the pandemic, the street was shut down from traffic to add outside dining areas for restaurants and cafes. It was also a great opportunity for Paseo Nuevo to have a remodel to attract locals and visitors once it opened back up.

Between the years of 2021 and 2022, State Street was finally alive again after almost two years of quarantine. But how can there be excitement when some of your favorite stores and eating spots are still trying to restore what they once had?

After the pandemic hit Santa Barbara, some popular family-owned businesses have been affected and continue to try to recover from all of the time they were out of service.

Story continues below advertisement

“Being in COVID was difficult and it was financially scary,” the owner of Scarlett Begonia, Crista Fleming said.

Fleming emphasized that Scarlett Begonia has tried to keep their dishes and beverages affordable for families to enjoy. The restaurant also had a bakery, but moved out and was relocated on 824 Reddick St. and named the bakery the Deux Bakery. Fortunately, their bakery blossomed during the pandemic because customers could just grab and go.

Many other family businesses were struggling with their financial issues and trying their hardest to keep their employees because of the above minimum wage rate and hiring new employees for these businesses would be expensive.

“I was trying my hardest to keep my employees because they are also my family and today it’s expensive to hire employees,” Fleming said.

Another family owned business that was having this issue is Chicken Little, a children’s toy store. Fleming mentions that the owner of Chicken Little comes to the restaurant often and mentions their struggles throughout the time.

“Because of the pandemic, we resorted to online shopping, meaning it is hard to make money for businesses like Chicken Little,” Fleming said.

It wasn’t just employees that stores like the Scarlett Begonia had to struggle with, there was also a shortage in resources. There have been shortages of ingredients that these restaurants need to provide the dishes they have on their menu. Also, now with inflation rates going up, everything in the markets is getting expensive.

With every struggle that restaurant owners face, trying to give perfect service as they’ve done before, everyone is trying to move forward. Family and locally owned businesses have had to get used to the changes of the pandemic and be flexible with what they have now. Businesses like Scarlett Begonia and Chicken Little have been trying to keep their business running by relying on others and working together.

“But I do see a future for us,” Fleming said, “It’s a gift and a curse.”

More to Discover