Travis Road Ahead
Travis Road Ahead
Contra Costa businesses slowly reopen, adapt to limitations

Contra Costa businesses slowly reopen, adapt to limitations

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Contra Costa businesses slowly reopen, adapt to limitations
Carolina Marlin serves only her third client since reopening at Frontier Salon and Spa in Clayton. Hairdressers were first to be back. The nail stylists will start July 1 and the aestheticians July 15.

Now that businesses are reopening as restrictions ease, the limits on customers that can be served is replacing the financial strain caused by months of closure.

“We are starting with a plan and seeing how it goes,” said Shelley Baker of Frontier Salon Spa in Clayton, who is balancing the renewed joy of serving clients with caring for her employees.

Burkin Electric

For the foreseeable future, her shop will not serve as many customers as before the closure. Baker noted a 15-20 minute break is needed before a new client, as restrictions require extensive cleaning and sterilization practices.

“We have done this before, but not to this degree – not to this extent,” she said.

Veronice Gomez State Farm
Veronice Gomez State Farm

Since everyone must wear masks at all times, Baker will encourage her stylists to go outdoors for breaks so they can remove their masks.

Gone too are the coffees, cookies and other amenities that her clients have come to expect.

East Bay Regional Parks
East Bay Regional Parks

Friends and families can not accompany the clients, either. Customers can bring their own water, book or magazine.

“We are going to feel a bit disoriented,” said Baker. “But once we get this down and the cadence rolling, we can step up our (number of) clients. But for now, we have to keep it to a minimum.”

Leigh Klock Realtor

Chi Vu went from renting his own chair to acquiring Cutting Loose in Concord during the height of the closure. While Vu has bookings lined up for his grand opening, some of his clients from the pre-pandemic days are hesitant about coming in yet.

Still he is ready, with social distancing signage, temperature checks, disinfectant sprays and the required COVID-19 certification printed out and posted.

Revamping the restaurant scene

At the likes of Old Spaghetti Factory and Yard House, the No. 1 inquiry is when dining rooms will be open again. That’s followed by requests to make reservations.

Stephanie Lopez Realtor

Even before the public health orders and closures took effect, Old Spaghetti Factory had already blocked off tables. Joining that change are markings on the floor to direct customers where to walk.

General manager Heather Kawalkowski expressed relief that she isn’t using valuable time interviewing candidates to fill a lot of positions. “Nearly 100 percent want to come back,” she said.

Raj Gharmalkar, Yard House’s general manager, reported getting about 50 customer calls per day. He said their ability to offer outdoor dining is helping them make the transition to welcoming guests back inside their establishment.

Like at other restaurants, Yard House customers will see constant sanitizing and cleaning. Seating arrangements will factor in social distancing. Patrons will be expected to wear masks when they come in and whenever they leave their tables, such as to use the restrooms. No mask is required when seated.

Contra Costa businesses slowly reopen, adapt to limitations
Concord’s CheerGyms co-owner Derek Patterson leads participants in his recreational class through a stretching activity. (David Scholz photo)

Finding activities for kids

The timing of some easing of restrictions in business sectors that cater to kids could not have been better. With patience of parents wearing thin due to distance learning occurring since March, CheerGyms in Concord was all too ready to accommodate their children.

Ruth Bancroft exhibit from last summer’s “Sculpture in the Garden” show (Pete Cruz photo).

Co-owner Derek Patterson says parents were “needing a sense of normalcy” for their children, especially with other activities still unavailable. Since the gym’s reopening in early June, there has been a good response from both new and returning families.

Current restrictions permit his operation to accommodate 24 children per hour, a far cry from the 75 it could normally serve at any given moment in the past. Then there is a 30-minute break to prepare the facility before allowing in the next group. Nonetheless, they are happy to see the kids.

Waraner Tree Experts

Similarly, Walnut Creek’s Ruth Bancroft Garden & Nursery has been a welcome destination for families after it opened its gardens under the “outdoor museum” designation.

Executive director Gretchen Bartzen noted visitation is off a bit, but that has been a good thing for the social distancing aspect. However, she reported sales are up 50 percent in apparent response to the public’s pent up demand for plants.

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