The tears in Lisa Boelter’s eyes said everything.
She had been through multiple catastrophic fires, but her business remained open.
She had been through a devastating debris flow incident, but her business remained open.
She had been through a bevy of floods, but her business remained open.
On March 19, the doors to her business were closed.
COVID-19 proved to be too steep of an obstacle for Anna’s Bakery, a long-time Goleta staple featuring fresh pastries and an extensive list of Peet’s coffees.
“I remember that day, I’ll remember it for the rest of my life . . . March 19 was never a day that I thought would come,” said Ms. Boelter, co-owner of Anna’s Bakery. “With the fires and floods, we knew that there would be an end in the near future. With this, we just have no idea.”
Thankfully, April 15 will now be a new date she can focus on — that’s when her business re-opened.
With an assist from the Goleta Chamber of Commerce’s Masks4Biz campaign, Ms. Boelter was able to safely reopen for her 18 employees and her dedicated customers, with the Chamber providing hundreds of masks that are necessary for a restaurant to operate.
“I’m so thankful, without this I wouldn’t have been able to safely have any employee come back to work,” said Ms. Boelter, who indicated that the business is running on reserves at this point and has applied for a small business loan through the CARES Act.
“I couldn’t tell them to come back and then tell them I couldn’t protect them. This way, I can.”
Ms. Boelter is walking before she runs, taking the cautious approach by only opening on Wednesdays, with online orders to be picked up at the bakery in Camino Real Marketplace.
She has another day or two that she’s considering, but wants to be responsible — both for public health, as well as rebuilding her business in what will be a “new normal.”
“I’ve had a lot of time to think about what we will be whenever we get past this,” Ms. Boelter said. “We’ll probably be wearing masks to keep everyone safe. We had self-serve coffee, that probably won’t happen anymore. And, I think I need to learn more about Apple Pay, as we probably shouldn’t be handling cash.
“It’s going to be different.”
The Chamber has taken a very deliberate approach in helping the Goleta community, identifying sectors that it can impact and help drive resources toward them.
Restaurants are key to that goal, considering that each are considered essential, as long as they can keep their doors open safely. Securing masks, each of which can be used twice by an employee, goes a long way in aiding each in the attempt to stay relevant in an uncertain time.
“The Chamber and community are so grateful for our essential workers who are helping to keep our grocery stores and restaurants running,” said Kristen Miller, President & CEO of the Goleta Chamber of Commerce. “We want to offer this extra layer of protection by distributing masks to our area businesses.”
The Chamber was also very aware of how important it was to find solutions that didn’t impact local healthcare workers who are struggling to find personal protective gear as they care for those with COVID-19.
Thankfully, longstanding relationships with multiple partners in the community allowed the Chamber to acquire 20,000 masks without impacting other efforts.
Ms. Miller pointed to American Riviera Bank, Apeel Sciences, Community West Bank, Deckers Brands, Kathy Odell – WEV, LogMeIn, Montecito Bank and Trust, Transphorm and Village Properties as key in helping secure masks for restaurant workers.
Two doors down from Anna’s Bakery sits Los Agaves, a popular Mexican restaurant that has sister venues in Santa Barbara.
Here, the long lines out the door have disappeared, with Manager Enrique Hernandez more than willing to share the plight of the restaurant.
“We are down 90%,” Mr. Hernandez said.
Yet, even through his new mask that he received through the Chamber, there remains a great deal of hope and commitment to the surrounding community.
Mr. Hernandez spoke about homeless people walking by, wondering what they might be able to afford.
“No problem, we send them away with something to eat, this is no time for someone to go hungry,” Mr. Hernandez said.
Just this past week, a local organization that tends to the homeless was talking to Mr. Hernandez about what they are trying to do to help that underserved portion of Goleta’s population.
He sent the person away with care baskets.
“I show up to work and I go home, I don’t see a lot of what people need. But if we can do something to help people, then we are going to do it,” Mr. Hernandez said.
Los Agaves has also looked beyond its own menu — which is a bit shorter nowadays to control costs and focus on customer favorites — and offers up items like toilet paper, which is in high demand across the world.
“Now is not the time to be greedy, now is the time to help people, now is the time to come together,” Mr. Hernandez said. “I have people that come by and they might have forgot their money, and I just tell them you can get me next time.
“We just want to be there for people.”