Downtown Chico businesses face new challenges

Downtown Chico is a ghost town because of coronavirus concerns, businesses have closed or reduced hours.

Posted: Mar 19, 2020 10:49 AM

CHICO, Calif. - Downtown Chico is a ghost town because of coronavirus concerns, businesses have closed or reduced hours.

Action News Now Mackenzie Drigo spoke to local business owners to see how they're coping. Each business owner said they had to cut hours and employees.

Most businesses downtown are closed or offering curbside pick-up, two of those places is Kona's Deli and Old Bar Kitchen.

"We have been doing strictly call in orders. We will do them as long as possible, we're still adjusting our hours to figure out how this will work. So now we are just trying to adapt to the environment as it's happening," owner of Kona's Deli, Chris Yarbrough said.

Action News Now spoke with the owner of Old Bar Kitchen, Anton Axelsson, who said it’s been extremely difficult because they’re still recovering from the Camp Fire and now they are facing this crisis.

“We might shut down just until this whole thing blows over but were uncertain right now," Axelsson said. "It's horrible it been really bad, I mean I've been having to lay off some of my staff."

When we asked how many people have Axelsson has laid off, he said roughly 10.

Action News Now also spoke with the owner of Upper Crust Bakery, Jeffrey Plummer. He said they’re cutting workers hours which is also leading to a cut in production.

“Normally, I have about 35 people who work for me and we are running about six people at this point, our business has dropped off about 50 to 60 percent so I have had to cut off-hours with our employees,” Plummer said.

With businesses closing its doors, Action News Now spoke with the President of the Chico Chamber of Commerce, Katy Thoma, she said that they can't determine the economic standpoint for businesses and employees right now.

Chico Chamber of Commerce is closed to the public, but employees are still working hard to get information out through their website and social media.

Chico Chamber of Commerce sent out a survey that they encourage their members to take.

“Questions that we ask is if it relates to how they see their business to work, are they making any alternative methods, say for working from home for their employees, are they making any allowances for that, are they planning on cutting staff... those type of questions,” Thoma said.

The results for the survey will not be available for a few weeks.

Alliance for Workforce Development, Inc., Business Service Supervisor, Gary Besser said they have responded to over 24 local businesses so far on what the next steps they should take.

“The state, the employment development department has the workshare program, that can assist employers that are forced to reduce the hours of their workforce providing compensation,” Besser said.

Besser said the state has waived the one-week waiting requirement for unemployment benefits.

For a list of resources and information from the Chico Chamber of Commerce, CLICK HERE

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