Burbank Restaurants Treading Water to Stay Afloat

By On March 30, 2020

Burbank eateries have been hit by an economic tsunami after State and Federal orders shutdown non-essential businesses and required the public to stay at home in an attempt to stop the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

As an exception to the orders, restaurants were allowed to stay open with no in house dining allowed; only food to go was permitted to be sold. The orders have affected businesses big and small, locally owned and chain restaurants. To stay afloat eateries have laid off workers, reduce prices and are offering specials. Anxiety is high as restaurateurs wonder how much longer they can keep their doors open, while the country grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is the worst that has happened since we have opened. We’re trying to do the best we can. Our hopes are going down,” said Yammy Brambile the owner of Mexcocina Cafe, a locally owned eatery serving authentic Mexican food.

Customers loved to sit down and relax while dining in, said Brambile. The lack of dine in sales have impacted the Cafe’s revenue severely dropping it from $35,000 a week to $15,000.

When office buildings and non-essential businesses closed, sales were cut further.

At the family owned Central Park Pizza, sales are down more than 50%. Located at the Batcade, an arcade with batting cages, half of Central Park Pizza’s sales disappeared when the Batcade closed. Now only sales for pick-up and delivery are made, and they offer no contact delivery. An innovation borne of the need to assuage customer’s fears of infection, some people are even afraid to order food, no-contact delivery is offered by restaurants eager to boost sales. The driver leaves the food where the customer had requested and departs; no contact is made between the driver or the buyer.

Siri Thai lost its lunch crowed when the entertainment studio’s closed their offices.

“It’s been very difficult. Lucky to still be open,” said Siri Thai owner, Max Kongvisawamit.

With sales down 60%, Siri Thai only serves dinner for walk in pickup, curbside pickup and delivery—including no contact delivery. Drivers use hand sanitizer and gloves to protect themselves.

“Drivers—they are pretty scared, but they want the money. They want more hours.”

The Smoke House lost most of its customers when the studios closed. The steak house is now offering reduced prices and a smaller menu for take out. Despite their take away sales doing well, they still needed to lay off most of their employees. The remaining are working four to six hours a day.

Loyal customers and neighbors have been the pillars holding up most of Burbank’s restaurants up. With no lunch crowd and reduced to selling only dinners to go, the Italian restaurant, Centanni Burbank has been kept afloat by their regular customers. The three owners, one of who is the Chef, are now running the establishment on their own. Their employees were laid off.

To increase sales, Burbank eateries have offered a number of specials and discounts. Centanni Burbank’s entire wine menu sells for just $15 a bottle, Mexcocina is including free deserts with orders over $60, Siri Thai provides free drinks and cash back, and the Daily Grill offers alcohol, including cocktails, to go and meal specials for two or more people.

The Daily Grill’s revenue is 10% of its normal business and 91 employees have been furloughed.

“My team members, I am constantly thinking of them. I worry about them,” said the Grill House General Manager Jessica Kasilian.

Layoffs at Burbank eateries have been steep with most or all of their workers gone. Central Park Pizza has managed to keep all their workers with reduced hours trying to help them.

“We are just open for our employees, so they can have…a few hours,” said Brambile.

“We are offering employees free food to support them,” said Siri Thai owner Kongvisawamit.

Restaurants are using various food order and delivery apps while still taking online orders at their websites. With the future uncertain and no idea when they will return to normal, Burbank restauranteurs are swimming hard to not drown in the pandemic tidal wave.

Kasilian remained resolute, “Lets work hard, let’s stay open.”

For a list of Burbank restaurants that are still open, click on the link to go to myburbank.com‘s Burbank restaurant’s page.