BAKERSFIELD, Calif — In light of the recent COVID-19 restrictions, many restaurants told 23ABC News that they are trying to do everything to stay cost-effective and that includes making many new changes. 23ABC'S Tori Cooper spoke to the owner and staff at the Mama Mia restaurant in Downtown Bakersfield about some of the changes they have had to make in order to stay financially efficient.
Some restaurant owners have closed down altogether because their operating costs no longer allow them to make the same return. Other restaurant owners also told 23ABC News that their restaurants are not designed to operate primarily on a to-go basis.
Mama Mia restaurant is open but they said that in order to stay cost-effective they've had to make some drastic changes including to their hours, and days of operation.
“Just major adjustments. We went from having a full venue to now having five tables to see if we could accommodate as many as possible guests as we could,” said Mama Mia Restaurant Manager and Head Bartender, Mario Zepeda.
According to Zepeda due to COVID-19 and the recent state suspension of indoor seating the restaurant had to cut back in other areas to maintain cost-effectiveness. This included closing on Mondays.
“But due to the whole COVID-19 situation and everything it did affect us tremendously," said Zepeda. "So now in order to make it more cost efficiency we are open Tuesday through Saturday.”
Zepeda said the head chef has also spaced out shifts between servers to help keep his original staff but they are closing an hour earlier now too.
“For lunch, we still have the same hours as from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and we close all the way to 5 p.m. again and then we reopen from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.”
Unlike other restaurants like Sonder that have closed altogether or the Padre that is only serving to-go orders, Zepeda said they are making do with what they have. They have made changes to meet the economic challenges and have even added an event and liquor license permit in order to serve outside.
Mama Mia is up and running once again. They are letting everyone know it is still a safe and comfortable place to dine out.
“We still try to make it as homey as possible and we all wear protective gear, gloves, masks so you don’t have to be afraid of actually coming.”
Mama Mia’s outdoor seating also meets Kern County's Public Health fresh air circulation requirement.
However, some customers who spoke to 23ABC News outside of other restaurants told us that the heat is the main factor impacting the traditional dining experience,
“With the summer temperatures, it's not as practical. So it’s uncomfortable,” Lisa Dunn said.
However, she also said that she won’t let temperatures stop her from having a fun outdoor dining experience with friends and family.
"But we're getting out so that we can socialize and get out of the house and enjoy some type of normalcy.”
Zepeda said that as of now Mama Mia is no longer taking reservations and they are serving customers on a first come first serve basis. He also said if community foot traffic starts to increase soon they will make adjustments and likely start taking reservations again.