Community spaces—to say nothing of restaurants—look vastly different now than at the time this article was researched. One week ago today [March 23], we were forced to shut down our normal operations, and to let go the entire team that made Rhodora the vibrant, mission-driven space it was. Independent restaurants operate on razor-thin margins in boom times—weekly revenue is funneled directly towards paying our team living wages, covering our rent, bills, inventory and other expenses. There is very little left over for anything else. In strong economic times, it is possible to stay afloat; in this current environment, it is impossible.
As business owners, we were forced to make a decision between the interest of public health and the interest of our staff and business continuity. Either we remain open in order to provide continued income to our staff who desperately need it, or close—clearly in the interest of public safety, but at the same time cutting off access to critical dollars that enabled our team to pay rent, cover bills and take care of their own families.
For now, we are keeping our heads above water. For the first time ever, we have switched to delivery service, which allows us to continue to serve our local community. We are encouraging those who are able to support our staff. They are facing weeks, if not months, of income scarcity, and we have set up a GoFundMe account in their name. These initiatives have been replicated across many small businesses, and we encourage everyone to support those business and staff that are near and dear to them. We face enormous monthly costs, without our traditional revenue stream. Individuals can support continued operations of the business by purchasing gift cards.
The silver lining to all of this is that the outpouring of support has been nothing short of overwhelming and positive. We are proud to have contributed to the community around us and are grateful for all they’ve done to keep our business and our staff safe. We will continue to provide programming via our Patreon page, offering free weekly video chats with leaders in the sustainability space, so that we can continue to be a community resource around a mission that has never been more important.
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