• April 2, 2020

Local businesses learn to adapt during coronavirus pandemic - Odessa American: Local News

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Local businesses learn to adapt during coronavirus pandemic

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  • Local businesses adapt to stay alive

    Restocking the shelves, Joel Marquez loads the growingly popular tomatoes for customers to purchase at John's Corner Monday afternoon. Employees at the small open air nursery have seen an uptick in vegetable sales that seems to be a byproduct of the difficulty in finding fresh produce at grocery stores due to COVID-19 concerns.

Posted: Tuesday, March 24, 2020 11:28 am

Businesses left and right are adapting to a new reality to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Restaurants have either closed or moved to carry-out or delivery only, while other places have had to cut hours in addition as well as employees in order to comply with the guidelines set forth by the state and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Odessa businesses have not been spared as they have also been forced to adjust in certain ways.

John Blamey, owner of John’s Corner, has seen his landscaping and nursery garden solution business slow down during the last couple of weeks.

“Right now as sunny as it is, we should be at a full parking lot,” Blamey said.

But he added that due to more people staying home, he’s seen an increase in vegetable sales.

“It has increased our vegetable sales because people are going back to vegetable gardening,” Blamey said. “Everyone’s afraid of what will happen in the long run, so they’re wanting to have vegetables.”

One of the biggest changes Blamey has seen has been the lack of people coming in as well as being limited by how many people they can employ. 

“We can’t hire as many people to get through spring,” Blamey said. “Because we’re not selling as much as we have been in the past. But I’m advertising. We’re still open. We’re open air nursery so people aren’t too afraid of being in a closed-air space. It has kept us going.”

Right now, John’s Corner is at nine employees but Blamey said he usually has 16.

Like with everyone else, it’s a situation that’s been unprecedented even though he has seen his business affected by other issues in the past.

“When we went to water rationing, we had to adapt,” Blamey said. “The city let me water my plants since that was 100 percent my business but it affected the business. We hung in there and got through that.”

Blamey remains hopeful that they can survive this.

“Hopefully with the heat rising, we’ll get through this,” Blamey said. “Since coronavirus doesn’t live in the heat, let it get hot.”

For local eating establishments, it’s been a bigger change.

At Cork and Pig Tavern, simply dining in has become a thing in the past for the time being, just like with every other restaurant.

“It has cut us down quite a bit,” Cork and Pig manager Rick Stewart said. “We’re a dine-in restaurant and it’s cut out about 90 percent of our business. It’s affected a lot of good people who work here. Now we’re just trying to get whatever sales we can.”

In order to adapt, one of things they’ve done at Cork and Pig has been doing different specials.

“We’ve started doing our $10 pizzas for carry out,” Stewart said.

Some of those specials have included some thinking outside the box.

“Today, we started doing our carry outs as well as doing these little survival kits where you can take a pizza with the ingredients home and make it with your kids,” Stewart said. “It’s a little quarantine activity.”

“We give you the dough with all the ingredients for our signature pizzas where you can add the toppings,” Stewart said. “It’s a fun little thing for people to help pass the time.”

But it’s still been a struggle to try and do what they can.

“We’re trying to do specials but the community’s been very supportive and we’re really appreciative of that,” Stewart said. “We’re trying to maintain numbers and be able to pay the bills. It’s hard work and long hours. We’re just doing what we can.”

The hours have also been reduced, now going from 11-8, every day.

“We’ll do to-go orders,” Stewart said. “Before, we were doing 11-10 Monday through Thursday and then until 11 on Friday’s and Saturday’s.”

One place that hasn’t been too affected so far has been Garibaldy’s. 

The restaurant, which has usually thrived on its drive-thru, has still been able to see business continue.

“Luckily for us, it hasn’t been as tough as for other businesses because we do have our drive-thru and that’s where we make most of our businesses,” Garibaldy’s owner Oliva Reyes Guerroro said.

While they’ve had to also do away with dine-in for the moment, Guerroro said the inside business really only gets busy during lunch and dinner rush hours.

But that has still posed some challenges.

“Luckily for us, the only thing that we’ve had to be accustomed to is shutting down the inside but that does slow down the business a little bit because people are typically in a rush and don’t want to wait in the long line at the drive thru,” Guerroro said. “They would like to come inside and take it out but since we can’t have people in the building, that’s been our biggest change.”

Another change that Garibaldy’s has seen has been from customers ordering bulks of items.

“They’ll come in and ask for a pound of food versus just asking for the individual burritos,” employee Jasmine Reyes said. “I think they’re preparing to stay home. I’ve had a lot of people come ask for salsa and take 32 ounce. I think those are pretty interesting.”

But like with everyone else, Garibaldy’s has had to not only adapt to a few things, they’ve been trying to keep everything as clean and sanitized as possible.

“We’re trying to stay clean and sanitize,” Reyes said. “Even though no one is inside, I’ve still been bleaching and keeping the kitchen as clean as possible. We try to limit each interaction with people. We try to keep our space as much as possible while working. We’re staying as clean as much as possible.”

Odessa, TX

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