Brad Byrd InDEPTH: COVID-19 and Staying Afloat

In Depth with Brad Byrd

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) — With restrictions still in place for many businesses, Brad Byrd talked to a local restaurant owner about his business, and operating during a pandemic.


Brad Byrd: Welcome to InDEPTH. When we think of the shutdown of small businesses in our community, like retail stores, restaurants, bars and movie theaters — we often think about the ambiance of shopping and dining, getting away from it all. But, for those small businesses, it has been much more than that. We are talking about people who are hurting. Joining me tonight is Abraham Brown, the owner of La Campirana. Abraham, this has been a very tough period of time for you and your employees. What adjustments have you been forced to make to keep your business alive?

Abraham Brown: Yes, it’s been a big challenge, as we had to let go a little bit more than half of our staff, because we couldn’t afford keeping them employed. It’s very tough, because a lot of those families are really struggling right now. A lot of the resources are not there for them. So, it’s
been a big challenge for them. I’m very sad for us to have to let them go.

BB: And, Abraham, you usually have that perpetual smile on your face. But, at the end of the week, how much of an impact is this having on your bottom line?

AB: Well, our our sales went down dramatically. We’re still very lucky that customers come and help us a lot — doing curbside, and picking up food from us. But, it’s been very, very tough, to the extent that it’s been really difficult for us to stay afloat.

BB: Are you treating this like a week-to-week, or a month-to-month situation?

AB: It’s just a week-to-week. It’s incredible — but, sometimes — day-to-day. It’s a different ordeal, trying to figure out what are we going to do the following day, just to make sure that we stay afloat.

BB: Abraham, have you looked at small business loans? Have you reached that point yet — just to basically meet the payments that you have to make — from a monthly basis?

AB: Yes, yes, we immediately applied to a PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loan opportunity. We’re in the process. We understand that this opportunity might have been a great resource for us. But still, there’s a lot a lot of expenses that would not cover itself. And, it’s just the the harshness of having to see our employees not being able to work, and having a very difficult time.

BB: What are you telling your employees? And they are, in many cases — you treat them like family.

AB: Yes, they’re family. And, we tried. We tried our very best to give opportunities for them. We have changed schedules, we have rotated hours so that everybody gets some opportunity to get some work. We encourage them, and we tell them that we’re in this together. And, we really tried to make sure that we’re there for them at every time. If they need food, they know that they can come here and feed their families. If they need any type of support, we’re there for them. And, they showed us the same thing. They help us stay strong.

BB: Final question. It’s a tough question, Abraham — a painful question. But, how much longer can you operate like this? Because, even if they reopen things up there, it’s going to be a new world out there.

AB: Not much longer, to be honest, Brad. If this extends for another month, probably, it’s going to be the end for us, because a lot of the fixed payments are still there. We have to make them. It has been a little bit difficult to make arrangements, and we haven’t been that lucky with some of those fixed expenses that we have. And, if it continues like this, I don’t know. It will be a catastrophe for La Campirana to continue operating.

BB: Well, Abraham Brown, thank you so much for joining us, tonight. And, you are not alone in all this. But we’re thinking about you, and thinking about all of those businesses here in the Evansville area that are trying to make adjustments to keep us fed. Thank you so much for joining us, tonight.

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