By Paul Fadelli
Mayor Pro Tem, City El Cerrito
During these difficult times, restaurants everywhere are in dire straits…and that includes El Cerrito. The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) estimates that as many as 5-7 million restaurant workers may lose their jobs due to the COVID-19 crisis.
In El Cerrito, most restaurants are providing only take out or delivery service to keep a stream of revenue coming in and workers employed. The El Cerrito Chamber of Commerce website (www.elcerritochamber.org) has a list of restaurants still providing meals to guide those who want to support our local establishments. (Also see the last page of this Byline.)
Placemaking is an important part of making cities enjoyable and accessible. It means creating attractive and enjoyable parts of a community where residents and visitors want to be—to spend time, and hopefully, money. To me there’s nothing more important than res- taurants to attract people to neighborhoods where friends can meet, dine, and send important tax revenue to the city.
After college I was employed in an Oakland restaurant (Victoria Station) and worked my way up from a dishwasher, salad bar assistant, bus boy, and finally a bar- tender. Nights and brunches were always festive for the community of customers who congregated. While paychecks were lean, they provided important jobs to many of us employees who were still finding out where our lives might lead us. I’ve remained friends with many of my former restaurant workmates from “the Station.”
But help is needed now to shore up these small businesses.
Hopefully, the recent emergency federal legislation will be making critical loans to restaurant owners and other small businesses. And the NRAEF has established the “Restaurant Employee Relief Fund” spearheaded by Bay Area chef Guy Fieri and several corporate sponsors who say “100% of the monies raised go to impacted restaurant workers.” For more information or to donate go to: rerf.us.
Better yet, to support local placemaking in El Cerrito, order take out from our own restaurants so we can keep our brick and mortar as viable places that keep local workers employed during this difficult time.
The place we will be making better is El Cerrito.