Because small business is so important, its stumbles stoke the economic woes that Americans face today.
Things looked grim for Dora Herrera last spring. Revenues at her family’s 44-year-old restaurant business, Yuca’s, had plummeted within a few short weeks as COVID-19 kept customers away from its two popular taco shacks, in Los Angeles and Pasadena.
The drop was precipitous. By late April things reached “a point where we were like, if we don’t get more customers or cash, we’re going to close on Monday,” she recalls.
A federal loan arrived in early May, providing enough money for eight weeks of payroll. In the months that followed, additional loans and grants — and Yuca’s fast-footed adaptations to pandemic restrictions — kept the business alive, though the stress remained.
“We always said we’ll figure out how to pay that loan back later,” Herrera said. “It was, ‘Just stay alive. Just stay alive.’”