CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif. - As Contra Costa County libraries re-opened for the first time in more than a year on Monday, some businesses reported seeing record sales numbers of patrons similar to pre-pandemic times in a sign that things are getting back to normal.
The proof is at The Veranda in Concord where people have returned to dine, shop, and eat. According to The Veranda General Manager Izamar Hook, the parking lot at the shopping center was at 90% capacity on Saturday. The Veranda has been fully re-opened for about a month and has seen a surge in customers.
"We have several tenants who are reporting pre-pandemic, pre-COVID sales and actually record breaking sales because there's so much built up energy," Hook said.
She noted that roughly three to four tenants are seeing their best numbers since The Veranda opened for business a couple of years ago.
"I think everyone is excited to get a little bit of normalcy back," Hook added.
One tenant, Super Duper Burgers, continues to be a hit. The fast casual Bay Area burger chain is celebrating its 11-year anniversary since opening its first location in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood, according to Super Duper Concord General Manager Edson Palacios.
"It’s definitely a lot more packed," Palacios said. "The parking lot being full almost every day. We feel the difference for sure."
Movie theaters are drawing crowds too even with limited capacity. A spokesperson for Cinemark said this past weekend was the best in the COVID-era. The release of movies like Mortal Kombat and Demon Slayer brought in an estimated 54 million dollars across North American theaters.
For those who prefer a quieter experience, Monday marked the first time libraries in Contra Costa County reopened in more than a year with grab-and-go service. Contra Costa County Librarian Alison McKee said the counties 26 locations will have visible changes, including floor markings to indicate spacing, hand sanitizers, and Plexiglas windows around service desks.
"The browsing experience is just something that can't be replicated online," McKee said . "When I come in, that's what I look forward to most."
California State Librarian Greg Lucas was on hand at the reopening of the libraries in Concord and Hercules.
"A lot of the coolest parts of libraries are the spaces inside and the ability to meet other people inside so it's great to see that happening again," Lucas said.