New Businesses Open in Burbank Despite Pandemic

San Fernando Blvd. in Downtown Burbank wil become a one-way street on a trial run (Ross A. Benson photo)

Over the past year, during the stay at home order, Burbank saw an influx of businesses close. For rent signs popped up in store windows in major shopping areas but according to the City of Burbank’s Economic Development Department many stores and eateries have closed as a result from ongoing struggles before the pandemic even started. While others found that getting funding support and loans were not as easy to obtain.

When one door closes another one opens, and many businesses and entrepreneurs jumped onto the opportunity of lower rents and existing leases, allowing them to open in Burbank even amidst the state of emergency. The food industry picked back up when the stay at home order was lifted and outdoor dining was allowed, giving restaurants a chance to use private parking lots and sidewalks to serve customers.

Milano Cafe and Deli is still waiting on permits and has experienced the struggles that opening a business during a pandemic can bring. Equipment shortages, losing subcontractors due to short staffing, and other workers falling ill have been just a few of the challenges that owners, Mike and Adelaide Pollastro, have been faced with. On the upside, had it not been for COVID, the Pollastros would not have been able to take this business opportunity at such a great deal here in Burbank. The couple moved from Seattle, to San Fransisco where they had a wine bar and finally to Los Angeles where they have spent a year looking for a location. “We continued to look for businesses in Huntington Beach, Pasadena and Santa Monica because prior to COVID those were all hubs of activity,” said Mike Pollastro. “Quite by accident we came upon this opportunity in Burbank. It’s really funny because the first time we came to Burbank my wife absolutely fell in love with the town. She just felt it was home.”

The location will be more than a deli and cafe, it will host a range of amenities including an upscale market featuring dry and canned goods, non-food essential items, and a selection of French, Italian, Brazilian, and Armenian specialty items. Fresh baked bread and desserts, a hot and cold bar, breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, coffee, and a juice and smoothie bar are all things the Pollastros are working to incorporate into the business. Milano Cafe and Deli has a proposed opening of Spring 2021 at 269 E Palm Ave in Downtown Burbank.

For the Economic Development Department, it has been an ongoing effort to bring businesses into Burbank and to conduct studies on where people spend their money, how much they spend and where they shop and eat.  It’s the departments job to scout out businesses that would be the best fit for Burbank and share data on why they should be in our community. With the top entertainment companies residing in Burbank and upcoming projects like the Avion Project and future hotel development, it opens up a great opportunity for new stores and restaurants to make their home here.

Finney’s Craft House is scheduled to open this season and is taking the location in Downtown Burbank where Market City Cafe use to be. “To get such a really great tenant to come in and transform it and make it into something we are proud of makes me very excited,” says Mary Hamzoian, Burbank’s Economic Development Manager.

Inside of Petit Parisien. Photo courtesy of Raphaëlle Dufosset-Ruau.

Another small business that recently opened during the pandemic, is Petit Parisien, a French inspired store in the heart of Magnolia Park’s shopping district. Owners Barbara and Raphaelle moved to Burbank two years ago with their families when both of their husbands relocated to the states for work. The two mothers got their work permits a month before the pandemic started and soon found it hard to find work in their careers as a feature movie colorist and a social worker.  Petit Parisien was born to bring French products and that small shop feel to the big city where they could sell wooden toys, educational games, books, eco-friendly gifts and more. “It was important to share our culture with our neighbors,” says owner Raphaëlle Dufosset-Ruau. “We have no idea what the future will be made of, but we hope that our customers will enjoy what we picked and come back to discover some more treasures from across the Atlantic Ocean. The wonderful community of Burbank is known to be really supportive with small businesses and we already have experienced it.”

The city’s Economic Development website lists a number of businesses that have recently opened or are planning to open in 2021. The list is a mix of franchises and mom and pop shops from places like Aldi, Home Goods and California Fish Grill to Silverlake Ramen, Milano Cafe’ and Deli, and Petit Parisien. For the full list visit .