Tehachapi is a popular weekend trip for Bakersfield residents who want to get out of town, but according to The City of Tehachapi, it’s actually become a part of their weekday commute as well.
“It’s funny. It’s almost opposite right now, where we have a lot of people commuting up from Bakersfield and the surrounding areas like Cal City and Mojave coming into Tehachapi,” Corey Costelloe Economic Development Coordinator of The City of Tehachapi said.
City of Tehachapi’s Public Information Officer, Key Budge calls it a piece of Americana in the middle of the kern county. For some in the restaurant business, it’s become the setting for their American dream, even during a pandemic.
“We had six new restaurants open last year, in the midst of a pandemic, which is crazy, and five were independently owned, they weren’t corporate,” Costelloe said.
A restaurant boom leads to more jobs. Costelloe said there’s about 50 to 100 restaurant jobs available in the greater Tehachapi area right now. He added that the pay is above minimum wage at certain local Tehachapi restaurants.
“They want to pay a few more dollars an hour because we have a certain level of quality we expect out of our food, and of our team,” Costelloe said. “So they’re willing to pay a little bit more and honestly as a consumer I’m willing to pay a little bit more, because I know what they’re paying the workers.”
Even if you’re starting an entry level restaurant job, Costelloe said you never know where opportunities may lead.
“We’ve actually had some pretty good success stories of employees that have eventually purchased the restaurant that they worked in,” Costelloe said. “Johnny’s take and bake pizza is a great example. It’s a longstanding business that has been here since the 1990s, but about four years ago, it was purchased by some employees, because the owner was retiring.”
In a small community like Tehachapi, Costelloe pointed out that you may have an easier time opening a restaurant of your own someday. You’ll still have to deal with the usual connection fees, impact fees when building from the ground up but, “If you’re going to open a business, you can call me directly. You can call our engineering and development services director, directly,” Costelloe said. “You don’t have six to seven layers of bureaucracy before you get to someone who can answer your question, or hold you hand through the process.”