LARKSPUR, Calif. - Easter Sunday normally brings people together for church services and family gatherings.
But this year, social distancing and shelter in place means a disruption to those traditions.
Emporio Rulli, an Italian pastry shop in downtown Larkspur for more than three decades, hopes to bring comfort to people during this holiday.
Owner Gary Rulli said it's an annual tradition for him to make special pastries for Easter. They're baked right on the premises.
"This is the pastiera Napoletana, the Italian Easter tart," said Rulli as he showed off one of his creations.
He said Easter is normally the second busiest holiday behind Christmas.
But since the shelter-in-place order, he said business has dropped by 50%.
"We've seen 9/11. We've seen the recession, but this year for everyone is like no other," said Rulli.
He hoped to counter the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic with the comfort of Easter traditions.
"My grandmother would bake many of these same items you see on this table," said Richard Perreault, a patron who lives in the neighborhood.
Customers describe this pastry shop as an invaluable gem. They come in with a sense of nostalgia.
"When we didn't have this virus, we would walk here, have a pastry, sit down and people that we know and get together; a sense of community and friendship," said Perreault.
Signature offerings for Easter include Colomba, a sweet bread, and hot-cross buns.
"I'm here to pick up my favorite: hot-cross buns with my husband, my family. It's kind of a tradition," Perreault said.
The shop is carrying on traditions but making adjustments. Rulli has closed his three locations in San Francisco and laid off 25 employees. However, he's able to retain the staff here in Larkspur.
All the baked goods are offered on a take-out basis. A table is set up for grab and go. Online sales have doubled.
"We produce everything here. That's a blessing. We can scale it way back or yell to the back, more hot-cross buns," said Jeannie Rulli who owns the pastry shop with her husband Gary.
They hope resilience, experience and a determination will help them weather the COVID-19 crisis.
"The smells and the memories, I think, are what makes people feel grateful and make them feel comfortable," said Gary Rulli.
Emporio Rulli will be open Easter Sunday.
Despite the loss in sales, the Rulli’s plan to deliver free meals to health care workers at Marin Health Medical Center starting Monday.
A Gofundme has been set up to help fee the Marin Health Center Nurses.