Congresswoman Sara Jacobs, the 53rd District's newly-elected representative, toured small businesses in Hillcrest Wednesday and talked with employees and business owners about economic relief and the next steps in their recovery.
Rep. Jacobs' homecoming tour came just days after California allowed restaurants to reopen for outdoor dining, and on Jacobs' itinerary were two restaurants known for their on-site atmosphere.
John Husler owns Lestat's Coffee House in Hillcrest which, along with two other Lestat's locations in San Diego, has been closed during much of the pandemic.
“I mean, we’re known for being a community spot. People come here to meet and talk. And COVID is not conducive to that,” Husler said. “People started to come in with COVID and I was scared the staff was gonna get sick and, you know, we thought we could just wait it out.”
Much of Husler's conversation with Rep. Jacobs was centered on relief legislation currently being drafted in Washington. Many of the current relief programs expire in March.
“The need for certainty and the ability to plan, so I think we need to make sure that in this bill we put in place an automatic trigger so that these programs, PPP, unemployment, stays in place until our economy gets better,” Jacobs said.
The Equality Business Alliance hosted the tour to introduce Jacobs to people who have been suffering through the pandemic's economic toll.
Andres Valdes, a bartender at Rich's nightclub, was back on the job this week after the announcement that California lifted the stay-at-home order.
“It’s been really tough on me and I know it’s been tough on my coworkers as well,” he said
“I can see that people are becoming more lively. It seems like things just coming back to having more spirit,” he said.
Husler seems cautiously hopeful.
“There might be a plan now on how to deal with a pandemic, but I don’t see a plan how to deal with what comes after the pandemic,” said Husler.
At the very least, he said, he got time with a policymaker, a person he hopes will take his concerns to the Capitol.