Making the best of it
Mel Vega works through strange times at the Moss Beach Distillery. August Howell / Review

Mel Vega was working hard last Sunday afternoon at the Moss Beach Distillery. Amid sanitizing menus and bill folders and taking orders on the phone, she paused to reflect on the situation millions are facing worldwide.

“It feels insane,” the distillery’s marketing manager said. “It feels weirder than probably anything in the whole world.”

With Californians ordered to stay indoors except for essential trips, the restaurant industry has been hit particularly hard. Those working in Coastside restaurants have seen staff layoffs and a transition to delivery and take-out services. Some restaurants, including Mezza Luna, The Barn and Starbucks, are closed for the time being.

That could be the tip of the iceberg. Last week, The National Restaurant Association requested a relief package from the White House and estimated the industry could lose $225 billion and nearly seven million jobs over the next three months.

Vega noted that changes made at the Moss Beach Distillery, and other restaurants for that matter, impact many more people than just employees. There are currently three employees at the restaurant, which has stopped hiring landscapers and cleaning services.

“The trickle-down effect … I mean there aren’t even words to describe what’s happening,” Vega said. “It’s literally affecting everything and everybody.”

“I’ve worked here for a long time and this community is very important to me,” Vega said. “I miss everybody. This is hard. … I live my life every week hanging out with my locals.”

The Press in El Granada, known for its consistent bustling breakfast and brunch scene, has seen its profits and staff halved in the last week, according to Angela Scatena, the baker there for the past two years.

Still, despite the changes and things being “a little eerie,” Scatena is determined to keep serving customers. The shelter-in-place order comes at odd timing for her in particular, as she’s in the process of purchasing The Press next week.

Scatena and her staff still come in before the crack of dawn to prepare food and coffee. While they’re working to get deliveries through DoorDash and other food delivery services, she and her daughters offered to deliver the goods themselves.

“I still have my regulars who come in and get their to-go,” Scatena said. “There were regulars who would come in here and read the paper for two hours.”

In the meantime, the chairs and tables pushed and stacked by the walls for use on a better day.

“We’re not closed, and if we do close, we have to live it day by day, hour by hour,” Scatena said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen.”

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