Amid the pandemic, Loyola alumni Daniel Kronfli ‘01 and Johnny Angeles ‘07 have taken on the challenge of adapting their restaurants with COVID-19 restrictions in place.
Owner of restaurant chain Bacari, Kronfli has expanded his business to over five locations around Los Angeles today. However, Kronfli has had to redesign his restaurants and business plan to be able to adhere to regulations regarding coronavirus.
Referring to the first lockdown, Kronfli notes, “Last time they shut us down, the first time, we had shifted our business to grocery stores. We kinda knew there was a need for toilet paper, hand sanitizer, dried goods, flour, fruits and vegetables, etc.”
After trying to convert his sit-down style restaurant to a delivery-only operation, Kronfli came up with the idea to set up street vendors where his restaurant could sell food.
Kronfli recalls, “We shifted our business model to cooking street burgers, bacon-wrapped hot dogs… so people can get that and keep walking. We were only doing delivery and takeout for two days until we came up with the idea to do street food. There’s nothing else really we can do.”
Similarly, Johnny Angeles ‘07, owner of restaurant Lobsterdamus in downtown Los Angeles, has had to modify his pop-up style restaurant in order to thrive during the lockdown.
Angeles said, “This year has been, I mean just to be quite honest with you, it’s been pretty tough. Our business model is based on us being able to go to events, go to large gatherings, big crowds… that’s where we would sell our food. We were really dependent on that. We basically had to go to our grassroots rogue operation of just popping up wherever we could.”
Instead of outdoor dining, some restaurants have resorted to delivery through apps such as Grubhub and Doordash, but these apps come with their own challenges.
Angeles said, “We tried at the very beginning to do delivery apps. It just didn’t work out. To be honest with you the delivery apps take too much money. We stopped doing that and we just do take out.”
The new lockdown orders prohibit outdoor dining, which many restaurants have been doing for months in order to keep their businesses afloat. Kronfli wants restaurants to be able to operate the way they were before the most recent lockdown.
Kronfli says, “The way we were operating from June to 3 weeks ago was fine. I think it was safe. I think ideally what they should be doing, opposed to shutting us down, is they [LA County] should be hiring more people to help make sure that restaurants and all other businesses are compiling with the rules to keep everybody safe.”
Because locally-owned restaurants have been impacted especially hard from this lockdown, Angeles suggests that people support small businesses during this time to help them make ends meet.
Angeles says, “People should continue to support their favorite local restaurants, small businesses, mom and pop shops.”