How a Livingston mother and daughter kept their restaurant afloat despite the pandemic

LIVINGSTON, Calif. (KFSN) -- It was a dream come true for a mother-daughter duo - opening Las Morelianas Restaurant in Livingston, where they pride themselves in their authentic Mexican Food.

"Molcajetes, huaraches, gorditas, everything is fresh like homemade tortillas. People love those," say Cristina Gallegos and Estephany Calderon.

They bought the restaurant and rebranded in 2019, but the COVID-19 pandemic took them down when things started going well.

Their debt got worse, and their dream to own a business began crumbling, causing them to shut their doors for two months.

"That hurt the most, two months we had to keep paying the bills, rent, our personal bills, personal rent," says Estephany.

Cristina and Estephany say they felt they couldn't give up and reopened feeling optimistic.

During that time, Livingston's City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez, a regular, noticed their struggle.

He says the city has found ways to support the community since Day One.

"We had to step in and try to find a way to help them and there are many ways to do that," Ramirez says.

Says Cristina: "He's always helped and sometimes without us asking for it and keeps us up to date with resources."

Ramirez says local businesses are what keep communities thriving and he can't imagine not lending a helping hand.

"Small businesses are the lifeline of our economy whether it be nationally or statewide, and there is no difference locally, so it's important to always provide technical support."

It's support the two women say made all the difference because now their door is back open and business is flowing.

They say this experience has taught them what they're capable of.

"Just keep trying even if you feel like your world is coming down and bills are piling up. You have to keep it up," says Estephany.

It's motivation they used for themselves and share with everyone.

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