There was an emphasis on supporting small businesses during the pandemic, and now more than ever this spotlight should not diminish. Small businesses, like restaurants, carry delicious and authentic food and create a needed community.
A little over a year ago, my parents opened a Mexican restaurant called Sazon It. The title is a mix of English and Spanish to represent immigrants' acculturation when immigrating to the United States. You keep your culture close to your heart while also commencing to add in specific American values. "Sazon" means “to have flavor” in Spanish slang. The title derived from my Dad being told that his cooking has "Sazon." My Dad has been cooking since he was six years old, and he has a clear gift in culinary and vast experience in the kitchen, over 30 years! Since I was born, my Dad's eyes glistened talking about one day owning his own restaurant to serve his clients.
2020 was not the ideal time to jump into opening a business. The economy was suffering due to the pandemic. However, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the community supported us, and slowly but surely, our clients increased week after week.
Now, every time I walk into the restaurant, familiar faces greet me. Clients know each other; they converse with my mom, who is there every day as a waitress. The clients ask for the chef, and my Dad makes sure to make the rounds. It is a community, and clients, many of whom are immigrants from Latin America, feel closer to home than ever. My parents also, unexpectedly, were able to find a safe space where they serve delicious meals and feel closer to their homeland.
Chef Robles states, “Just like a song makes you recall feelings and thoughts, food has a similar nostalgic effect. I smile when clients exclaim that my food reminds them of their grandparent’s food. It helps us preserve the roots and soul of our culture.”
There is a similar story behind every local restaurant. Rather than helping expand the wealth of specific individuals that own large food chains, take a moment to look up and find a small restaurant that will most certainly welcome you with open arms and delicious food. Independent businesses go beyond just simply selling food; they become family.
Additionally, there are a lot of challenges small businesses face, and there are certain ways that anyone can help support them immensely. For example, leaving a review can help the restaurant reach more people on Google. Specifically, leaving a comment on Google Reviews. It is important to keep in mind that Yelp is a company that is not small-business friendly. Yelp is not entirely accurate as they recommend restaurants to pay monthly to promote the page. If restaurant owners decide not to pay extra the "good" reviews on the website are often taken down. The amount of money it requires can be burdensome for a small business to pay, and the ratings can suffer as they quickly take down any 5 or 4-star reviews. Thus, small businesses will especially appreciate an honest review on Google.
Moreover, posting the food on Instagram is also highly impactful. In the day and age of media, social media is the most efficient way to spread the word. A quick post to your story and a tag to the restaurant will help the restaurant reach your friends and family.
Lastly, show genuine support by simply being kind when entering the restaurant. A thank you can go a long way. Right now, there are many economic challenges that small businesses in our community face, and now is the time to show support.