MIAMI (WSVN) - Two restaurants in downtown Miami that have been hit hard by both the coronavirus pandemic and nearby looting that erupted from the protests against police brutality are struggling to stay afloat.
“Like many other small local businesses, we’re definitely having a very hard time,” said Rafael Wong, executive director of the Los Ranchos Steakhouse in Bayside Marketplace.
Since the start of the pandemic, businesses across South Florida have been suffering.
“We’ve experienced other situations but never as bad as this,” said Alex Salman, owner of Latin American Cafe.
Malls like Bayside Marketplace in the heart of downtown Miami were forced to close down in March, and though they reopened two months later, that downtime has had a serious financial impact.
“There were 30 people that we have had to lay off or furlough,” Wong said.
The owner of Los Ranchos Steakhouse said he has been a tenant at the mall for more than 30 years. He said that since foot traffic isn’t anywhere near what it was before the pandemic hit, he can’t afford the overhead to reopen the restaurant, which means he can’t afford to pay rent.
“While the mall itself was mandated by city ordinances to be closed, they were expecting that we pay 100% of the rent for that time period,” he said.
Other businesses like Mambo Cafe and Latin American Cafe said they were having similar issues being able to afford their rent.
“Our sales are minimal,” Salman said.
The owner of Latin American Cafe said recent protests that have taken place just outside the mall have created another hurdle for businesses, some days having to close even earlier because of the demonstrations.
“We don’t have tourists, the disturbances, the protests and all that other stuff have affected us even more,” he said.
Bayside Marketplace management released a statement saying in part, “We have worked closely with tenants through these unprecedented times to identify solutions based on individual business needs. This includes helping more than 50 tenants access additional public or private financing.”
While some of the business owners said they have applied for financial assistance, they said they need more help, asking for some sort of rent assistance until things pick up again.
“I know it’s gonna get better, and little by little it’s getting better,” Salman said, “but, you know, it just takes time, and we need a little help in the beginning.”
Wong said, if they doesn’t receive the help, they might be forced to close for good.
“We’ll have to consider bankruptcy at this location,” he said.
Salman said he’s in talks with the mall’s management, and he’s currently negotiating the rent and hoping for the best.
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