NewsCovering Kern County


Businesses brace for state reopening

Posted at 7:22 PM, Jun 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-14 22:22:19-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — "We were hoping to see June 15th come and it's finally here," said Mark Lamas, owner of Panache Salon.

Lamas said over the last two months as a business owner he's been in limbo with the ever-changing regulations for his clients and employees. But once the restrictions are lifted on Tuesday his clients will no longer have to wait in their cars before coming into the salon.

Panache is currently 75% staffed and while many stylists have stayed some have decided to serve clients out of their homes. When it comes to filling administration positions like a receptionist Lamas said, "We've actually hired people and they didn't show up on their day to work. I don't know if it was because they just needed to say they were looking for a job and just didn't show up - answer their phone or anything."

Lamas said it's been hard staffing those positions and the salon has put out ads twice for administration jobs and has only received about five applications.

"Finding somebody to take a job whether we pay minimum wage or above that has been difficult," said Lamas.

But for those who stayed working with him through the pandemic there's been a tremendous amount of support saying, "You can feel the love here."

Last year he said the business lost a lot of money but the new location on Truxton has seen a major influx in new clients calling and business has increased at least 25%.

"At some point that nostalgic old feeling is in there somewhere and people want to return to that. I'm hoping with these restrictions being lifted people can feel confident that they are able to come in and get the services they want once again," said Lamas.

Raji Brar is the Chief Operating Officer at Countryside Market & Restaurants, which run several fast-food chains like Subway and Tacos Bell. While they were considered essential and stayed open during the pandemic Brar said there were a lot of ups and downs when it came to following state restrictions on things like dining areas.

But when it comes to staffing her experience has been different from some other business owners.

"We've had normal turnover just like we've had throughout the years but I don't see this great exodus happening, at least not for us at our locations," said Brar.

She notes one major thing that's changed is making sure the new businesses they open are what she calls pandemic proof.

"Is there delivery? Is their curbside? Is their takeout? You know only being dine in almost seems obsolete now. That would be very risky for somebody like us. We want to make sure we have things that are drive through or takeout or delivery just in case," she said.

Another change? Basic in person interaction. Brar said working in customer service she's noticed there's been customers with pent-up pandemic frustration. Which is something very different than what she saw a year ago but is hopeful that changes with reopening.

"I think as we reopen as this week-I hope that everyone out there whether you are an employee customer or business owner- I think there has to be some sort of understanding between everyone to be more cordial, to be more considerate and to have more empathy with one another," Brar said.