The reopening of several local businesses this summer has been a lifeline for some, but the economic hardships tied to COVID-19 continue to pose challenges for others. Among them: The Village Pantry, a family-owned Los Altos coffee shop established in 1947.
Since March, the downtown restaurant’s revenue has dropped more than 70%, according to its owners, and they’re struggling to make ends meet.
“We have seen nothing like this, nothing, not even close,” co-owner David Ogilvie said. “The first week we were closed it felt like a short holiday, but then it became a shock.”
According to Julie Ogilvie – who runs the restaurant the couple purchased in 2002 – approximately 85% of their regular customers are retired. Many of them haven’t been back since the pandemic began.
“We’re a very old-fashioned restaurant. The same folks come every day, same time, eat the same food, they all talk with each other and it’s a social event every morning,” David said. “That has stopped completely and the business has really, really dropped. It is very tough for us.”
The pandemic forced The Village Pantry to close from March 13 to June 21. The restaurant has been open for takeout since and now offers outdoor dining on the back patio. Julie said she works 12 hours a day, seven days a week to keep the business going.
“We opened the door, but we cannot pay the rent,” she said. “We are paying rent from our own savings.”
Although their rent has not been reduced, Julie said they did receive some help from the Los Altos Small Business Relief Fund – a $5,000 grant – and some customers have donated money and purchased gift cards to support them.
The Ogilvies remain hopeful about the future and said they are committed to serve their customers in the safest possible way.
“We want to stay and will keep going,” David said. “I don’t know for how long, but we just look at the next day – just keep going – look at the next month and hope for the best. We love our customers; please come and see us. We appreciate all the support that everyone has given us.”
The Village Pantry, located at 184 Second St., is open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day. For more information, call 941-0384 or visit thevillagepantry.com.