Ogden Latino-owned businesses face COVID-19 storm, fortunes improve | Business
OGDEN – As the COVID-19 pandemic began last year, leading to new guidelines and restrictions meant to curb the spread of the virus, Coffee Links’ business has plunged.
The public stayed close to home, rarely going out to reduce the risk of becoming ill, so the number of customers plummeted.
“So we had to improvise,” said Mauricio Araujo, who is involved in the management of the Ogden café, owned by his father Leon Araujo. The Result – Coffee Links created curbside pickup and delivery options, among other changes.
For many companies, probably most, this has been a difficult year. On the bright side, Leon Araujo, like other Latin American traders in the Ogden region, says business is rebounding at Coffee Links as the COVID-19 threat abates. “We survived,” he said.
In some ways, however, Latin American and other minority-owned businesses have faced their own unique challenges in the face of the pandemic, experts say. On the one hand, the stress and worry caused by the pandemic seemed even greater for minority-owned business operators than for others. “Minority-owned business owners are more likely than non-minority owners to report difficulty obtaining loans, to voice fears of shutting down permanently, and to predict a drop in income in the coming year,” We read in a report from the American Chamber of Commerce from last August, when the pandemic began to hit the hardest.
In addition, many Latin American and minority-owned businesses are smaller operations, which has meant more difficulties in overcoming the downturn caused by the pandemic, more difficulties in accessing grants and loans. federal government designed to help affected businesses. “In our national sample of companies of Latin American-owned employers, we find that Latinos have fewer resources to weather the current storm. Latino-owned businesses have less cash on hand, and when they apply for payroll protection program funding, Latinos see their P3 loans approved at half the rate for white-owned businesses, ”one says. Stanford University Graduate School of Business Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative report. , also published last August.
Araujo said some Latin American traders, smaller operations anyway, do not always keep the type of records required by lending institutions for loans. “They never thought about it, so when they start the paperwork the banks say, ‘No, we need the accounting,’” he said. “They have nothing at all.”
Angel Castillo, an advocate for the Ogden community who has worked with companies trying to tap federal funding for COVID-19 assistance, echoed this. Minority-owned businesses trying to tap into the first pot of relief funding have run into a “huge hurdle” stemming from having to include loss statements in their claims, not something small operations keep always. “If you’re a mom-and-pop burrito store, you’re probably not going to have someone putting a profit and loss statement on your books,” she says.
Compared to other groups, Latinos run a disproportionate number of foodservice and personal services businesses, such as hair salons, which have been particularly affected by the pandemic, noted Silvia Castro, director of the Suazo Business Center, that helps Latinos and other minority entrepreneurs.
That said, Araujo and other Latin American traders say they have been successful.
Marlen Quintero, who runs the Five O’clock Shadow Barber Shop in Ogden, recalls concern last year when barber shops and barber shops had to temporarily close their doors, in line with government restrictions on coronavirus. Like Araujo, Quintero is originally from Mexico. “I was mostly worried about my barbers because it’s their full-time job, their only income,” she says.
Upon reopening after the forced closing, however, customers entered, although there were new security procedures to follow. “It was really great to see our community standing behind us,” she said.
In fact, Five O’clock Shadow has moved past its old location and Quintero uprooted the business and moved into new digs to 455 24th St. last January as the number of COVID-19 cases in Utah soared. its maximum. She was scared, she said, “but we knew we were going to make it work, no matter what. We were going to make the most of the situation.
And despite the difficulties that experts say some Latino traders have encountered in leveraging federal grant funds, many have nonetheless been able to get help.
Javier Chavez, owner of Javier’s Authentic Mexican Food, a restaurant chain in the Ogden area, also originally from Mexico, cited the company’s help and loyal customers for success. Javier celebrated his 30 years of activity last February.
“It was difficult, but we survived with the help of the state, the federal government, the community,” he said. “We are fine.”
Omar Vazquez, who runs El Changarro Loco, a Mexican restaurant in Ogden, also appealed for relief funds. Still, there were difficult times. “We had to lay off all of our employees because we didn’t know what was going to happen. It was uncertain, ”Vazquez said.
As at Coffee Links, the staff at El Changarro Loco, which also operates a catering service, have been reduced to family – Vazquez, who is from Mexico, his wife and the couple’s two children. Now things seem to be back to normal and personnel issues are moving the other way – there aren’t enough employees to keep pace with customers as the business bounces back.
Now there is more business, he said, “but there are no people to work”.