Once-successful East Bay businesses struggling under weight of coronavirus shelter order

Friday, May 15, 2020
Successful East Bay businesses closing, struggling under weight of COVID-19 shelter order
EMBED <>More Videos

Some San Francisco Bay Area businesses that were immensely successful before the coronavirus pandemic have already made the difficult choice to close.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Restrictions on businesses are just starting to loosen up in many part of California, but that may be too late for many here in the Bay Area. Some that were immensely successful before the coronavirus pandemic have already made the difficult choice to close permanently. Others are just trying to hang on, long enough to survive.

It's an ending Kimberly Leo never imagined, an agonizing decision imposed upon her by a pandemic to close her beloved Oakland and Berkeley yoga studios called Namaste.

"I've had to just basically surrender to what's happening," said Leo, holding back tears. "I looked at a hybrid, in-person and virtual model and the expenses associated with that, and none of it pencils out."

RELATED: North Bay bakery rehires employees after coronavirus furlough; locals see it as positive sign

Leo has tried to see a path forward for her 17-year-old business, one that doesn't lend itself to masks and social distancing.

"We come together in a room and obviously we're very close together and that's not going to happen," explained Leo. "Teachers here depend on how large their classes are and they can't survive with a class that is 20% of what it used to be."

On Oakland's Lakeshore Avenue, even the most successful business -- a restaurant with not one, but two celebrity chefs -- is trying to see a path forward.

"I don't think anyone had pandemic in their business plan," said Tim Nugent, co-owner of Shakewell. Nugent has had to reinvent his business from fine-dining to 100% takeout...and lay off 70% of his staff.

The popular restaurant Shakewell is in no danger of closing, but has had to change its business plan

RELATED: 3 counties branch off from strict Bay Area stay-at-home order, changes to come Monday

Rather than thrive, the goal right now is to survive.

"I think if you stop, if you've already got like boards up, you die. You don't stay alive. " said Nugent. "So people will remember me, and remember Shakewell. We're still here. So when that day comes, we're still here and we're not forgotten."

At Namaste, as Kimberly Leo winds down her nearly two decades in business, she takes some solace in knowing she's not alone.

"It's not just happening to me," said Leo. "It's happening to everyone else, so I've taken some kind of weird comfort in that."

That doesn't make the goodbyes any easier.

If you have a question or comment about the coronavirus pandemic, submit yours via the form below or here.

Get the latest news, information and videos about the novel coronavirus pandemic here RELATED STORIES & VIDEOS: