Despite the restrictions, struggles, and closures brought on by the coronavirus, new food businesses continue to open across South Florida.
Sano Food is a family-owned operation with locations around South Florida, including in Doral and Weston. They serve breakfast, $10 burgers, empanadas, smoothies and much more.
Wilerma Escaray, one of the owners of the Pembroke Pines location, said that she did not see the pandemic as an impediment to opening her business. She views it as only a pause that has slowed the opening process.
“When the pandemic started, we were already finishing the business, we made a great effort among the whole family to open,” she said. “We had to distribute the staff from the Doral store to open this location.”
Code Wise bakery, located in Doral, is waiting for a fire permit and final inspection of the store before it is able to open.
Owner Gabriela Pacheco used to sell cakes via delivery and takeout from a commercial kitchen before deciding to open a physical location. Pacheco explained that the store was in the last stages of obtaining all the necessary permits when the pandemic hit, which delayed the opening of the business and also left her stuck paying for rent and other expenses.
“I was a little worried because there are a lot of expenses to pay monthly… that don’t stop even though the virus is around,” Pacheco said.
She continues to sell from the commercial kitchen while waiting for official approval to open.
“We were almost ready to open in mid-February and the pandemic came, our spirits fell a little bit,” she said. “But it was a great feeling that people kept asking for our products despite the pandemic.”
Both business owners said that even though their earnings have decreased due to the COVID-19 pandemic, continuing to operate was still the best option.
Besides dealing with opening the new location, Sano Food also had to adapt to updated safety guidelines so customers could enjoy their food comfortably and safely.
“We are taking the safety guidelines seriously,” Escaray said. “When customers arrive, we take their temperature, they must have their face masks on, we put antibacterial on their hands and they must maintain a distance of 6 feet between each group of people inside the restaurant.”
Among the 21 million jobs lost around the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic, about 6.1 million were in the food and drink industry, according to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The opening of new restaurants can be a win-win situation for people looking to find a job in this industry since many of them have not worked during this crisis.
“I had not worked for three months and this is a great opportunity,” said Carla Elizalde, a Sano Food restaurant employee. “I feel very comfortable as long as we protect ourselves and take all the necessary safety measures.”