Local businesses face more losses as stay-at-home order extended indefinitely in the Valley

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- With the extension of the stay-at-home order in the Valley, local businesses are trying to hang on just a little longer, while local leaders are offering a glimmer of hope until a widespread rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine can be delivered.

The staff at Kocky's Bar and Grill in downtown Fresno is doing its best to remain positive but owner James O'Donnell says he's seen an 80% drop in business since the order was implemented by the state.

"We rely heavily on cocktails, indoor dining, live entertainment and a lot of that has been taken because of that order," says O'Donnell.

Kocky's has been a downtown staple for nine years.

Owners, along with help from the City, invested in outdoor dining but even that has now been taken away.

And with the stay-at-home order extended indefinitely, O'Donnell says the future looks grim

"It's extremely frustrating for both me and my employees. We continue to follow the rules, staying with the strict guidelines and we're fine with that and then the rug is snatched away right from under us," says O'Donnell.

Lewis Everk, who owns Jugo Salad and Juice, says hope is dwindling.

He's been able to find ways to keep the lights on at his business and reopened with modifications Tuesday.

But with the stay-at-home order extended, the future of his other business, Vyxn, remains bleak.

"It's disheartening to know we've come this far and still no end in sight," he says. "On the heels of hearing about the new shutdown, it leaves little to no hope for a full service restaurant."

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With the stay-at-home order extended indefinitely, business owners say the future looks grim.

The order means bars must remain completely closed while restaurants can only operate with delivery or takeout.

"It doesn't make sense. You can be in a crowded Costco, and 6 feet social distancing eating pasta," says owner of Oggi Italian Trattoria Louie Maglieri.

His Tower District restaurant was hit with a series of burglaries since the pandemic began - and the shutdown order compounded his woes.

On Tuesday, he only received seven takeout orders.

At this point, his doors remain open only to give his employees some hours and provide to his customers.

District 5 County Supervisor Nathan Magsig says, "I've seen COVID-19 not only decimate the people of Fresno County but also the businesses that we have here have been decimated too by these lockdown rules and orders that are in place."

Fresno County recently moved to reduce or even eliminate - in some cases half a million dollars in health fees - for small businesses struggling during the pandemic, while the state has also created a grant program for those seeking COVID relief.

"They've set aside about half a billion dollars, $500,000 for small businesses, non-profits, and cultural centers where they can apply for up to a $25,000 grant," said Supervisor Magsig.

Fresno Chamber of Commerce President Nathan Ahle says along with PPP funding from the COVID Relief Package, there may be other state funding that may be able to help struggling business owners.

"There's also some grant funding that will open up from state tomorrow. That will allow them to get up to $25,000 in grant money," he says.

Lewis Everk says Vyxn would usually make about $70,000 on New Year's Eve but this year he, and many other business owners, are just hoping to still have their business into the new year.
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