EL CENTRO — The City of El Centro issued the COVID-19 Outdoor Business Guidelines September 2, for the operation of outdoor and indoor businesses within private properties and public sidewalks.
Even as businesses started to open at less than full capacity, the City is pleased they can resume providing services to the community, said Marcela Piedra, El Centro city manager.
“We are supportive of our businesses. We depend on them for the jobs they’ve created,” said Piedra.
The opening was timely as cool weather dropped downward to the lower 90s, considering summer’s three-digit numbers. In addition to takeout orders, curbside pick-up services, and delivery, the change in weather now allows the enjoyment of outdoor dining services, said Piedra.
A day after the City’s announcement, Burgers & Beer restaurant on Imperial Ave. in El Centro opened outside dining with certain modifications.
“We opened immediately after hearing the news even though at 25 percent capacity only,” said Jaime Honold, owner of Burgers & Beer restaurant.
In addition to the existing outdoor area facing Imperial Ave., a temporary tent canopy was constructed adjacent to the restaurant’s entrance, furnished with a dozen tables. Additional staff were available to handle the anticipated influx of customers.
“It’s better than nothing. Whatever we need to get the economy going,” said Honold about the reduced capacity outdoor dining operations.
Meanwhile, takeout and curbside pickup continue to cater to customers who still preferr to dine at their homes.
Precaution guidelines were followed at the restaurant with extra time added to sanitize tables and chairs, Honold said.
Burgers & Beer, a family-owned chain of restaurants, has locations operating in El Centro, La Quinta, and Yuma, Arizona. El Centro Imperial Avenue and La Quinta restaurants are operating at 25 percent while Yuma provides full service. The El Centro Imperial Valley Mall branch is closed and will not reopen, according to restaurateur Honold.
“We are excited to come and support you,” was one comment Honold mentioned from a diner.
As restaurants were opening their outdoor dining areas, personal care services were getting ready for their customers.
“Hair salons and barbershops were likewise allowed to open indoors,” said Piedra.
Ludi Martinez, a single mother with three grown children, has devoted more than 20 years of her career in the hair styling business.
In October 2019, Martinez opened 550 Hair Beauty salon on Main Street in El Centro. She purchased furniture and other needed items to setup shop. But the business landscape drastically changed due to the COVID-19, which forced the closure of county and city businesses in March of 2020.
Meanwhile, the usual utility bills and rent were accumulating. It has been more than six months that 550 Hair Beauty salon was closed. There were no customers and no income.
“This is my life,” said Martinez, referring to her struggling business.
“They know that we have to pay our bills,” Martinez said. Her customers gave her tips, sometimes more than double the cost of hair styling services. For that, she is thankful.
Services are by appointment only. When she opened for business September 8, a day after Labor Day, and she had four clients. The following day, she had two more customers at the time of interview with The Desert Review; and there were a couple of hours more before closing time.
“I hope it gets better,” said Martinez.