Kava Lounge

Struggle to Survive: Small Businesses Worry Reopening Guidance Won't Save Them

Owner of the Kava Lounge given overwhelming fundraising support as he ponders the future of his small music venue

NBCUniversal, Inc.

As small business owners anxiously wait for state guidance on reopening, many worry it will be too little, too late to save their livelihoods.

Scott Bell is owner of the Kava Lounge, a small music venue on Kettner Blvd. The venue is popular for its underground electronic music scene but has been closed since March.

Bell worries that music venues will be last on the list to be allowed to reopen, which could force him to close permanently.

“You can’t dwell on it -- you have to keep going through life, taking it day by day," said Bell, who has owned the Kava for eight years. "I try not to think of the big picture of a year down the road or whatever. I just try to take it day by day."

Adding to the problem of reopening a small music venue: concerns about whether people will be willing to immediately return.

“If people aren’t comfortable coming out in large crowds, then it really doesn’t do us a lot of good having six or eight people sitting at the bar,” said Bell.

While being forced to close, Bell, like other small business owners, still has to pay rent and, in his case, liquor- and cabaret-licensing fees.

Bell was given a temporary reprieve. Friends convinced him to set up a fundraising page, and to his surprise, the community showd overwhelming support. In just over a month, the page has raised almost $20,000.

“I wouldn’t say it’s humiliating, but you want to think you can run your business on your own,” said Bell.

“People use the word 'amazing' -- they overuse that, but it really has been amazing, the support this place gets,” said Bell.

Bell said the donations offer a ‘light at the end of the tunnel.”

“We’ll make it to October, no doubt, and after that, I’ll have to ... re-evaluate at the end of every month to see what happens, Bell said.

The fundraising page for the Kava Lounge can be found here.

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