As California reopens, salon workers excitedly rip off ‘closed’ signs, restaurant phone rings off the hook for reservations

Written by Amy Ta, produced by Rosalie Atkinson

As Gov. Gavin Newsom is lifting the statewide stay-at-home order, KCRW hears from two business owners about how they’re preparing to reopen. 

Rosey Ibarra owns Social Salon Suites in Glendale, where she rents out work stations to stylists and estheticians. She’s currently recovering from COVID-19 and says she still has a lingering cough. 

She says she’s definitely happy about reopening. “We've been waiting a very, very long time. And it was quite an exciting day yesterday. For all of my tenants … they were ripping off the temporary ‘closed’ signs off of the doors. And they made it monumental and filmed them actually turning on the lights and being able to go back inside their spaces and getting ready to service their clients.” 

Ibarra says her business was “always teetering on the edge,” but some of her tenants continued paying rent when they were closed because they wanted a place to come back to. 

She says Social Salon Suites did not quality again for a Paycheck Protection Program loan, and they’re still getting denied or waiting for the second round of grants. “It's been an absolute challenge. I mean, pretty much everybody in there has already gotten into debt. So it's — I'm just happy and grateful that we're finally able to open again.” 

Clients at Social Salon Suites get their temperatures taken upon arrival. Photo courtesy of Rosey Ibarra.

Greg Amsler owns Salt Creek Grille in Valencia, which plans to start serving customers outdoors this Friday. He says he’s currently setting up tents and moving all tables outside, and he’ll require six feet between people and eight feet between tables. Staff will also have masks, face shields and gloves. 

“We'll be sanitizing all the tables before and after somebody sits down, and taking care of the food in the correct way as far as preparing and also delivering,” he says. “But … it's kind of a scramble right now because we've been shut down since before Thanksgiving. And I'm glad they gave us a little bit of notice because the last time they opened us up, they told us at noon that we could open at 5:00. 

Amsler says the good thing is that everyone is happy, and the phone has been ringing off the hook for reservations starting Friday. 

“Since last March [it] has been adapt, adapt, adapt. And our customers have been very, very complimentary, very understanding when we say we can't get them something, or we can't see them, or there's going to be more of a wait. … It's kind of a ‘we're all in this together’ type of mentality.”