“It’s critical for me because from this point on, we don’t know when COVID’s going to end.”
That was the worried plea from the owner of Queen Bee’s Art and Cultural Center in North Park, Alma Rodriguez.
“It was really hard for me to come in and see this place empty and quiet,” Rodriguez said. “It breaks my heart. It breaks my heart.”
Rodriguez said her Queen Bee’s rarely had a night off from live music or dancing over the last dozen years. However, her stage went dark March 13, 2020.
“Right away I thought, ‘All right. Maybe a week. Maybe two,’” she recalled. “But never expected to last this long.”
Rodriguez said she started “freaking out” in August. Queen Bee’s never went so long without young musicians, artists, or performers. It’s Rodriguez’s primary source of income.
“Literally, we survive off the arts,” she said. “There’s no revenue coming in. So, I used all my life savings.”
Rodriguez said she emptied her bank account and maxed out credit cards to withstand 2020. She said her landlord graciously decreased her rent to make it happen. However, she’s worried about 2021.
“Oh my God,” she sighed. “I don’t want to think about that.”
The small business owner said she’s getting creative. She rents out her parking lot for a weekly market. She also started her own GoFundMe to specifically pay her rent and bills for the first half of 2021.
“I think I’m a person of action. So, hoping is great, but let’s get to work," she said.
Rodriguez said she applied for several government loans, but was denied because she doesn’t have any employees, a kitchen, or a liquor license. Anyone who works there is a freelancer or contractor. She said she did apply for a grant through Save our Stages, but she hasn’t heard yet.