Imagine: you’ve finally opened your dream business and things are finally hitting a stride. Core staff has developed, relationships with customers are formed and specials are starting to make waves when the unimaginable happens – a global health crisis requires you to shut the doors on your dream and head home.
This is what happened to Chef Bryan Kidwell and Chef Macks Collins, co-owners of the new Culver City eatery, Piccalilli. In the latest edition of the L.A. Weekly podcast, L.A. Weekly publisher Brian Calle and L.A. Weekly Food Editor Michele Stueven sit down with Piccalilli’s chef-owners to get an inside look at what’s really going on in the service industry right now.
Opened in January 2020, Piccalilli was just getting its start, amassing a following after less than a year of business. The chef-owners’ whimsical and artistic interpretation of traditional fine dining paired with culinary influences ranging from the southeastern seaboard to the far Asian seas allowed them to serve up plates worthy of the most influential of instagrams. With a killer bar menu to match, it seemed like 2020 was to be a hugely successful year for the pair.
Then, the coronavirus hit, and it hit hard. Following Gov. Newsom’s orders, retail and service businesses have had two options: close or adapt to a takeout-only model. While many have branched out beyond the scope of their pre-pandemic operations, Kidwell and Collins have made the tough choice to shut down all service – for now.
“Even if it is an overreaction, we probably should overreact somewhat to something like this just to err on the side of caution,” they share on this week’s L.A. Weekly podcast. Though they initially began offering to-go options in line with social distancing guidelines, the death of a faraway colleague made them rethink their strategy. Simply put, the safest thing to do is to keep everyone home.
“We are always keeping tabs on our employees, making sure that everything is okay with them and asking them if they need help with anything,” they disclose. “Everyone is doing okay so far.”
It’s no surprise that many industries have taken a huge hit from the virus. From illness to restrictions, employers and staff are doing the best they can to keep it all together in the hope of a better tomorrow.
“We all rely on each other,” explains the chefs. The pair are trying to use this time positively, thinking towards the future and planning some big reveals for the restaurant once this is all over. “It’s an overall R&D time for us,” they tell our hosts.
So while the doors may be shut for now, they hope the public is as ready as they are to all sit down for a nice meal once we’ve all done our part staying home. In the end, Piccalilli and so many others hope to come out of this stronger than ever.
What happens to restaurants during a pandemic? Tune in to this week’s podcast for a heartfelt look into the reality so many are facing today, due to the gut-wrenching economy of the coronavirus era.
To support Piccalilli and their staff, please visit their Go Fund Me page.
Listen to the podcast here.