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Maintaining determination for restaurant survival in a pandemic

Action News Now looked back at some of the key events in the 12 months since the stay-at-home order was issued. Anchor Alan Marsden spoke to a local restaurant owner, maintaining his determination that those restaurants survive.

Posted: Mar 19, 2021 6:14 PM
Updated: Mar 19, 2021 8:12 PM

CHICO, Calif. – One year ago today, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued the stay-at-home order and our lives have not been the same since. In the beginning, we couldn’t get our hair cut, we couldn’t sweat it out at the gym, and the list went on. In the meantime, we all, along with business owners, had to navigate the statewide, four-stage reopening plan which evolved into the state watch list, and ultimately the color-coded tier system.

Action News Now Anchor Alan Marsden spoke to a Chico business owner about his professional and personal experiences riding out the past year.

Related: Part Three: Moving forward after a year of COVID-19 restrictions

“We have five or six guys in here. We have tickets all throughout here,” the owner of B-Street Public Lounge, Will Brady said. As the owner of B-Street, Brady would be hard at work in his busy kitchen with the rest of them.

“So, you see were completely shut,” explained Brady. “Everything has been cleaned and scrubbed and sanitized and left for you know hopefully in a couple of months, we’re going to come back and unwrap everything.”

But that was before. Action News Now spoke with Brady last year, shortly after he abruptly shut down all three of his Downtown Chico restaurants – B-Street, The Banshee, and Bill’s Town Lounge.

So much, to so many people, has happened since then.

On April 6, Action News Now began diving into reports, explaining the difference between an N-95 mask and a homemade mask. On May 30, Butte County Public Health Director, Danette York, provided updates to the county. The county’s numbers were still going in the wrong direction. On June 31, Butte County was labeled purple, on the newly announced state color-coded tier system.

School campuses all over closed. High school sports halted. Even worship services have been altered since. But besides illness and death, perhaps nothing has impacted all of us like the staggering hit to the economy. The closed businesses, the loss of income, and jobs.

Despite the roller coaster ride of emotion and stress over the past 12 months, Will Brady has never questioned the need to close his businesses. “My restaurants don’t matter as much as anyone’s life, ya know,” Brady said.

Related: Part One: One year later: Key points that led up to California’s stay-at-home order

But that does not mean his restaurants don’t matter. Early on, he pushed vigorously for the city to permit street dining. But then the summer surge nixed that plan.

The Banshee did make a go of take-out food and it was popular. But Brady discovered it wasn’t profitable. Brady said he credits PPP loans and a very helpful small local bank for keeping him afloat after coming within inches of selling his home.

For Brady, the best news is the vaccine. He has had the shots and said his employees will too. It is what he hopes will allow him to reopen, slowly at first, in mid-May.

“We’re going to be back to teaching people how to make mac & cheese correctly. Or our way. I should say there is no incorrect way to make it,” Brady explained.

Getting to the point of reopening, Brady said it is still an uphill climb. He’s cautiously optimistic it will happen, pretty soon, and he can’t wait to see his restaurants come back to life.

"I think people are gonna want to get out, throw some darts, eat some food, drink a beer, hug, dance,” Brady said. “Lots of things are going to be happening that I think people have gotten away from."

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