Vendors at San Jose's San Pedro Square adjusting to reopening during COVID-19 crisis

For the first time in six-weeks, customers were able to patronize restaurants in San Pedro Square in downtown San Jose.  

“You know what? It’s about time. Things need to get back to normal, like real soon,” said customer Franky Antoine
Around midday Monday, Antoine grabbed gyros and fries, as 10 of the 15 vendors reopened for online orders or grab and go service. Plastic shields, masks, and social distancing markers are in place to help slow the spread of COVID-19, which had shuttered 94% of downtown businesses.
“It’s been hard for everyone, especially the downtown community. We are the heart of downtown San Jose,” said San Pedro Square Marketing Manager Tara Santurri.
The reboot has been a shot in the arm for businesses such as Voyager Craft Coffee. Co-owner Sameer Shah said the virus-fueled hiatus has been like being away from family. He’s eager to get back in the groove, although for now, it’s take-out only.
“We’re incredibly excited to just see our regulars, our neighbors, our community, and serve them really good coffee,” said Shah.
He said the first day back has seen well over 100 beverages served. Not a lot but it’s better than bare zero. And experts said the difference, however slight, could make the difference between surviving the crisis or being forced out of business.
“It’s quite possible all this is doing is allowing them to lose less money than they ordinarily would. But it’s not going to make them profitable,” said Dr. Colleen Haight, chairwoman of the San Jose State University Economics Department. “It may allow them to stay in business because it will slow the loss of cash.”
At San Pedro Square, those in the financial trenches say the immediate goal isn’t getting ledgers in the black, but keeping doors open.
“We’re rebuilding our community, and that’s what we’re focused on here,” said Shah.
This as experts said the road to normalcy moves forward one sale at a time.