The coronavirus pandemic is forcing many small businesses to close up shop, especially as federal assistance programs are slow to release funds or hitting loan limits. A brother and sister duo own one of the many businesses fighting to keep their employees working and their doors open.
Until now, lavish Hollywood parties, huge dinner events, and celebrity birthdays were all major sources of income for My World on a Plate, a catering company owned by siblings Robyn and Cheven Lee.
“It’s like a million miles per hour and then you’ve got to stop. And you can’t even catch your breath. We’re not prepared for this,” Cheven Lee said.
The executive chef is now trying to support his family with the bakery he and his sister opened initially as a passion project.
“We’ve got bills to pay. We’ve got credit cards just like everyone else. But we’re not going to let it get the best of us,” he said.
While Robyn Lee keeps putting out pastries at Historia Bakery in Thousand Oaks, she’s also trying to get the federal help promised to small business owners. She says sales are just not enough to support her brother, or her family.
“We have been waiting on government assistance programs and been getting a lot of, ‘We’ll get back to you,’ ‘It’s in transition,’ ‘It’s in underwriting,’ ‘It’s being processed.’ A lot of hurry up and wait,” she said.
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Initiatives like the paycheck protection program are already running out of funding, and the sibling entrepreneurs say even if the money comes, it can’t sustain their companies long-term.
“That could be a band-aid, but what’s going to happen when it’s time to reopen the country? That takes a lot of money as well,” Robyn Lee asked.
They wonder if people will be able to afford large catered events, if they’ll line up inside their independent artisan bakery, and if their original cashflow will ever make a comeback.
“We can use every bit of help we can get right now, because we have families, just like you. We’ve got goals just like you and we want to be here tomorrow, just like you,” Cheven Lee said.
And just like you – they’re not sure when the problems from this pandemic will end.