I was going though old photos a few days ago, and I came across this photo of when I was a little girl with my mother. My family owned a Chinese restaurant called Peking Garden for over 25 years. I still remember what it was like growing up in a family business. This really made me think about how badly impacted small family owned businesses are by the current COVID-19 pandemic. And the question, are family owned restaurants going to disappear?
Our family restaurant was a large sit-down place that also did to-go orders. When we first opened, it was the only Chinese restaurant in town, and the entire restaurant was usually filled for both lunch and dinner. The restaurant was fully staffed and very profitable. As time passed, and places like Chinese buffets and restaurant chains opened up, it became harder and harder to fill the restaurant. We still had our regular lunch crowd from the local businesses, but it was tough to fill even half of the restaurant. This led to cuts in staffing and by the time I was a teenager, if someone called out sick, it was me or my brother that took over the job. We became the substitute cashier, waitress/waiter, dishwasher, deep fryer, and kitchen assistant. My dad became one of the cooks when needed, and my mother managed the whole thing and the bar. Restaurants are HARD work! When I think about how the COVID restrictions would have impacted our restaurant, I know it would have gotten very stressful, very fast. With only to-go orders, we wouldn’t have needed any staff, people who had become like family over the years. It would have been very difficult for our extended family who needed the paycheck. The volume of to-go orders wouldn’t have been enough to cover the costs of keeping the restaurant open, especially since the lunch business crowd would have been staying home as well.
Even with the opening of dine in at 25% or 50% capacity, it wouldn’t have been enough to keep the restaurant afloat. By the time I finished college, we were only filling 25% of capacity and the restaurant just wasn’t profitable anymore, so my parents retired and sold it. They could do that because even while they were running the restaurant, they had also been taking the profits and investing them. By the time the restaurant become unprofitable, they had enough from their other revenue streams, that they could afford to retire and sell off the restaurant.
This trip down memory lane makes me wonder, are small family run businesses like my family’s restaurant going to survive? Are they prepared? Do they have the other revenue streams that can help them keep things running during this difficult time? I’m afraid that for many, the answer is probably no… and that hurts. People need to understand just how much having alternate revenue streams can make their lives, and their family’s lives, so much better and easier.
It’s the difference between panic and stress and knowing that you have financial freedom, security, and stability. I don’t want family owned restaurants to disappear! Schedule your appointment with me so we can create the future YOU deserve!