Small businesses hit hard by pandemic: San Benito EDC, Chamber assisting

Special to the NEWS

As the confirmed cases of COVID-19 increase across the county, some small businesses in San Benito are making the difficult choice of closing temporarily.

“Those businesses that have closed their doors temporarily have done so mainly because of the latest mandate of ‘shelter-in-place,’ said San Benito Economic Development Corporation Director Rebeca Castillo, referring to the Cameron County measure issued to slow the spread of COVID-19. “They have closed temporarily in order to flatten the curve.”

’Till further notice
Pictured is a sign outside of El Gallito informing customers of the restaurant’s temporary closing.
(Photo by David Lopez)

Castillo said some of the businesses currently closed temporarily include Jalisco’s Mexican Restaurant, El Gallito, and Coco’s Mexican Restaurant.

El Gallito co-owner Peter Salazar informed the NEWS of the restaurant’s temporary closing effective March 26. Salazar said he and his partner limited the restaurant’s service to orders-to-go and curbside delivery after the county ordinance went into effect on March 18, but found they could sustain it no longer.

“The week after, although we remained open as we catered for a company, we noticed the orders coming in less and less, as people became more conservative with their money,” Salazar said.

Above money, Salazar worries about his employees, having cut down from 32 to seven, and now to zero after their temporary closing.

“Honestly, I do think other restaurants will follow due to the fact that this is getting a little worse. I have a feeling the county will impose further restrictions,” he added.

Castillo said the San Benito EDC and the San Benito Chamber of Commerce are continuously sharing all the resources available via the Texas Workforce Commission, the Small Business Administration, the US Department of Agriculture, etc.

“Both entities are assisting our small business community as much as possible to connect them to these resources,” Castillo said.

San Benito Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Megan Treviño said their partnership with the EDC includes a business community Facebook page aimed at sharing posts related to helping businesses affected by the COVID-19 emergency.

“We have a San Benito Business Hub Facebook where we are posting information for the business community to help them get through this COVID-19 crisis,” Treviño said. “We are also working with the City, sharing information for each other to help support the local businesses.”

Treviño said the Chamber is providing webinars on Small Business Association loans, providing businesses with information on funding as well as promoting the businesses that remain open.

Editor’s note: This article has been edited for length. To read the full story, click here or make sure to grab a copy of the April 3–9, 2020 issue of the NEWS.

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