When Bruce Haller, who owns Café 152 Bread Co. with his wife Audrey, filled out the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce’s COVID-19 business impact survey, he was candid in his answers.
“I said I’m looking for a prayer and a song,” he said.
Since the shelter-in-place order went into effect on March 17, Haller said business for the 60 Fourth St. café is down 70 percent, and is operating at “below break even.”
Now, Haller is waiting to see where the café stands in its application to a federal business loan program, as he predicts Café 152 Bread Co. has less than a month to survive, despite reducing its staff, menu and other cost-cutting measures.
“I’m just praying that the stimulus packages come in, because I’ve only got so long,” he said.
Café 152 Bread Co., like every other business in Gilroy and beyond, is relying on the support from the community to stay afloat during these early stages of the pandemic-induced recession.
Customers now have another way to support their favorites.
The Gilroy Downtown Business Association recently launched the Gilroy Save Your Fave Challenge at gilroyfavesgiftcards.com, which allows shoppers to purchase gift cards at Gilroy businesses to be used at a later time.
The website, developed by Patrick Flautt, currently has 16 businesses from throughout the city participating.
To begin, shoppers can browse listings in three categories: Food and Drink, Retail, and Services and Attractions.
After selecting their business of choice, they are prompted to select gift cards in $10 increments. Payments can be made by debit, credit card or PayPal. Once purchased, the certificates are then emailed to the user, who can save it to their phone or computer to use at a later date.
All proceeds from the sale go directly to the merchants, Flautt said. Businesses interested in joining can email Nancy Maciel at [email protected] or fill out the form at gilroyfavesgiftcards.com.
“The program with the downtown association is phenomenal,” Haller said. “Those are the types of things we need. We need people to reinvest in us so we can continue.”
Café 152 Bread Co. is focusing its efforts on making customers feel comfortable in the current climate, Haller said, by offering takeout and curbside pickup, as well as allowing them to order by phone or online.
On April 24, Nancy Maciel of the Gilroy Downtown Business Association visited various downtown businesses to hand out checks from the website’s first round of proceeds. The website applies to all businesses throughout the city, not just downtown, she said.
“We would like to thank the City of Gilroy for their purchase of a gift certificate and hope that the rest of the city staff and residents of Gilroy will support all of our Gilroy small businesses,” Maciel said.
A quick look at various other downtown businesses shows that Café 152 Bread Co.’s struggles are shared by all.
Teo Castillo, owner of Station 55 Seafood and Mexican Cocina, estimated business to be down nearly 50 percent. She said the restaurant’s ability to sell alcohol with to-go orders has helped sales.
Across the way on Fifth Street, Los Pericos Taqueria reopened about three weeks ago, but the restaurant’s owners have had to rotate employees’ hours due to slow sales.
Garlic City Café reopened roughly four weeks ago, and added a dinner hour for to-go orders, said Margarita Diego, who owns the business with her husband Socrates. She noted, however, that sales have been “up and down.”
Cielito Lindo is operating on a two-person crew, while a few doors down on Monterey Street, Old City Hall’s sales have decreased by 70 percent.
To purchase gift cards, visit gilroyfavesgiftcards.com.