My wife Amy and I first wanted our favorite taqueria not too far from where we live, but even though the open sign has been lit every time we drive past it, and we see people inside, we called and called to ask how their food was currently being prepared and packaged, and how they were managing their salsa bar, which is critical for the food we used to order from there. And how we can order and pick up the food, something we were willing to do. But alas, they never answered their phone.
The next choice for our two daughters was pizza. And not just any pizza either -- Pizza My Heart -- a local pizza place founded in Capitola, CA. There's a lot of yummy pizza locally, but our girls have always loved Pizza My Heart, especially going to get a big slice of cheese for Bryce, pepperoni for Beatrice, combo for me and pesto for Amy. We used to go together sometimes and meet friends, which feels like decades ago now.
Also, when Amy would teach a Kidpower workshop on Saturdays, it was my turn to go to Trader Joe's for the grocery shopping. When the girls would complain about having to go to the store with me, then I'd bribe them with pizza slices from Pizza My Heart, and they'd cheer "Yay!" Although I always wanted to go to the store first and then to pizza, they would ride me until caved into going to pizza first. I'm such a softy.
For now, those days are long gone. So, why did it take us so long for us to get to the point of ordering out again? Like many people, we were freaked out early on about coronavirus. We stocked up on groceries and couldn't imagine ordering any food prepared by others for fear of getting the virus.
Locally we've bought art supplies for the girls from Lenz Arts and books and gift cards from our favorite local bookstore Bookshop Santa Cruz, with the latest gift card purchased at a great online music event featuring local musical artist Keith Greeninger and sponsored by Ride Out The Wave (a site dedicated to supporting local businesses by encouraging people to by gift cards).
However, supporting local eateries was a health care conundrum for us. Even buying restaurant gift cards was a tough choice because we weren't sure if and when we'd be able to use them. Instead, buying groceries and eating at home, all the time, was what we did.
We haven't made these decisions lightly; local businesses continued to be decimated, especially restaurants and bars, and too many people have lost their jobs. Our favorite old watering hole and pub restaurant 99 Bottles closed back in March. While the sudden economic impact of coronavirus hasn’t been immediate for the nonprofit research firm I run, now headquartered in Santa Cruz with remote employees all over the world, we’re only six months from shuttering if the economic devastation continues.
This means the ripple effect for all of us continues to be more tsunami than little waves over time. Now over 30 million people are unemployed in the US, many of whom won’t be able to work until the economy fully opens again, and many more still who won’t have a business or job to go back to even when it does. Even those small businesses that have applied for the SBA Disaster Assistance, which we have, if received may extend the safety runways a bit.
However, the total number of reported coronavirus infected and the overall death rate is still most likely unknown and underreported. Just over a week ago it got personal for us, as Amy had to be tested. Thankfully she was negative.
This existential conundrum of saving lives versus saving livelihoods continues to widen our already great cultural and socioeconomic divide. It’s completely overwhelming to think of all the lives lost and the businesses big and small across industries laying off a few people to a few hundred thousand. I understand all the frustration and anger; so many of us are breaking under the weight of today. We need to continue to be kind to each other and help where we can.
We love cooking at home, and are practicing all the social distancing and wearing masks and more, but now we want some local restaurant food once and awhile. For as long as we can afford to do that at least. And because we can afford to do that, and haven't had a date night in nearly two months, we continue to donate a date night each month to the food banks for those families who need food assistance now.
So, be safe and order in. Open signs are lit up and waiting for your call. No shoes, no shirts, no problem. Enjoy.