San Gabriel Valley restaurateurs on adjusting to COVID restrictions

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Jason Tsai, owner of Popping Yoke, sits inside his empty dining hall on Main Street in Alhambra. The restaurant has been holding on during the pandemic despite a reduction in profits, but the suspension of indoor dining could be devastating. Photo by Benjamin Gottlieb.

Some restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley have been struggling before the pandemic and are unlikely to make it. Others are adapting to — and even taking advantage of — the increase in digital orders. 

To keep his brunch spot Popping Yoke open, owner Jason Tsai leans into his donut and ice cream stores. “My business for donuts actually went up. … Donuts are easy … people just park and grab a box of donuts and leave, or order on UberEats or Postmates.” 

At family-run Chinese restaurant Jiang Nan Spring, co-owner Henry Chang says, “Before the pandemic, the majority of our business was about 75 to 85% indoor dining.” Now orders flood in through delivery apps. Their cordless landline rings constantly as waiters prepare large to-go orders on the front counter, which has been a big adjustment for the family.