SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — In East San Jose, some much-needed assistance for local small businesses is on the way.
Throughout East San Jose, a predominantly Latino and Vietnemese immigrant community of small mom-and-pop shops continue to struggle to keep their businesses running.
Restaurants like Tortas Ahogadas Tradición Tapatí, a traditional Mexican restaurant from Jalisco which serves in the heart of East San Jose located on Story Road, have seen a major drop in revenue since the onset of the pandemic.
Translation: Spanish to English.
“In the end we decided to stay open, of course we had to decrease even to rest staff because sales decreased, initially they decreased up to 50%,” said Patricia Vidales, owner of Tortas Ahogadas.
Vidales said to keep the restaurant open, she’s had to let go of several employees and make changes to her menu to help some of her customers, who are also struggling with the impacts of the pandemic.
Translation: Spanish to English.
“I wanted a way to contribute to that although I was not 100% with my sales, but I felt that it was the moment to say thank and show solidarity and I decided to give a day to complement all my sales so that my clients could come,” said Vidales.
“To those who have lost their jobs, those who were going through difficult situations,” Vidales added. “And what I wanted is for my clients to be more than anything aware that we were aware of the situation.”
The restaurant has been fortunate enough to receive some financial assistance from the city to help pay rent but with the pandemic still ravaging communities in East San Jose and a slow vaccine rollout, many continue to suffer.
Other small businesses have not been so lucky.
One such business is Gala Events, an events planning agency, which began to offer its services more than 20 years ago and has operated out of the same office on East Santa Clara Street for more than 12 years.
Gala Events specializes in weddings, quinceañeras, and corporate events — but owner Oswaldo Moreno says the pandemic has been extremely difficult to deal with as people are no longer planning big events due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“We are devastated by COVID-19, we lost 90% of our clients, we’ve only been operating with 10% of our income and it’s been really hard,” said Moreno.
“We got no support from the city, local, from the state, not even federal, we really urge San Jose in order to survive to help us keep our business open.”
Moreno tells KRON4 News, if he can’t make up any of the loss revenue, he will be forced to close his businesses.
“For me, I am really surviving,” said Moreno.
“Two more months if dont get more support, I will be closing my doors too.”
In addition, both Tortas Ahogadas and Gala Events say they lost a significant amount of customers as many have expressed they themselves tested positive for the virus or someone in their family.
To help — San Jose Planning Commission Vice Chair Rolando Bonilla created COVID-19 relief for East San Jose last month for struggling small businesses.
Bonilla is still recovering from testing positive for the virus back in December and tells KRON4 News he understands what the community in East San Jose has had to endure with the pandemic as he also lost a family member due to COVID-19.
“Coming into the hospital stay I had been watching how East San Jose businesses have been struggling and suffering and a lot of the programs and financial support that is often talked about has literally been trickling in to the point that it’s almost non-existent in East San Jose,” said Bonilla.
Bonilla says the fund has now generated close to $30,000 in donations from the community, which includes an initial $5,000 from Bonilla through his company, Voler Strategic Visors.
Just this week, Business Circle LatinX, a group of community business leaders who assist immigrant business owners in Santa Clara County, announced it will be working in partnership with Bonilla to help people apply and distribute the grants.
Bonilla is calling on local government and big corporations operating in Silicon Valley to help contribute to the fund.
“This fund was possible by the kindness and generosity of the community, $5, $10, $100, we’ve had a couple of matches of $5,000, but this is really truly small businesses and just everyday working members of our community coming together to save our community,” said Bonilla.
“Imagine how much more powerful this fund will be for East San Jose, imagine how much more powerful this fund will be if the Mayor, the City Council, the Board of Supervisors, big corporations in our city also stepped up and made contributions to this fund,” Bonilla added.
“This is a chance to save a critical part of the city, a critical part of the city that generates a tremendous amount of tax revenue that benefits the city as a whole, this is a chance to help us help the city as a whole as well because without us the city also has a tremendous amount of economic loss.”