Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, business owners on Los Angeles' iconic Olvera Street have worried how they will keep their businesses alive. Now they are asking for help to keep them alive.
For the last 90 days, with the exception of some restaurants, Olvera Street has been closed to the public. Now merchants are concerned that the last 90 days will destroy 90 years of history.
“It’s very heartbreaking for many of us,” said Sylvia Gribbell, from The Mexico Shop.
For generations, families with shops on Olvera Street have focused on one thing: to always continuing telling the story of Los Angeles.
“It’s not just a place of business, it’s our home, a family, people we work side by side with,” said Gribbell.
“My family has owned it for 60 years but our history goes back 90 years when our family had the grocery store across the street,” said Greg Berber, of La Luz Del Día restaurant.
Berber is known for his famous carnitas tacos and not that long ago, every LA council member signed his 60-year anniversary certificate. Since the pandemic, not a single person in LA city hall has reached out to him since the famous alleyway was closed.
“It’s out of sight, out of mind,” said Berber. “No one is reaching out to calm our fears about the birth place of Los Angeles, something all the council members should be worried about.”
Around 75 business owners have come forward and admitted that they are at risk for closing for good if they city doesn't forgive their rents. They haven't been forced to pay since the pandemic started but when the stay at home order is lifted, they aren't positive they'll be making enough to stay afloat.
“And for the past two months, each month I’ve been down 90% in sales,” said Berber.
“We know everybody is hurting, but we need that help,” said Valerie Hanley, of Casa California.
The city council has the motion to forgive their rent on the table, but not a single vote has been cast yet.
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