Local businesses adapt to COVID-19


Alex Bussey

Social Distancing: An employee at Michael David Winery in Lodi, CA takes a customer’s order from the passenger side of the customer’s vehicle.

Alex Bussey, Feature Editor

Everyone can agree that this period of time is one of great uncertainty.  This uncertainty is magnified for small business owners; with the statewide Stay-at-Home order in place, people aren’t going out to shop as much as they did before.  Furthermore, trips are restricted to essential goods such as food and household supplies. As a result, local businesses are shifting their focus to essential services in an effort to support both the community and themselves through this difficult time.

Michael David Winery in Lodi made its claim to local fame as a pumpkin patch, winery, and restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating for guests to enjoy breakfast and lunch.  While restaurant seating and the wine bar may be closed, the kitchen is not.

The local winery has rapidly adapted to the current reality: in place of a full-service restaurant and winery, they are now a drive-up to-go restaurant with a small selection of groceries, including milk, eggs, and fresh fruits and vegetables.  The restaurant’s modified menu includes a store menu of grocery items, a “Grab & Go” Cafe menu of house-made goods such as soup, jam, and baked goods and a “Made-to-Order” menu of salads and sandwiches.

To help keep workers and customers safe, Michael David is working to minimize contact between staff and customers.  Staff members wear cotton gloves, take orders from the passenger side window and place purchased goods in the trunk of the customer’s car.  They also offer an online ordering option, allowing customers to pay online and further minimize contact.

The winery and restaurant announced on their website that all customers will receive the club member discount – 25% off all wine purchases.  While students can’t take advantage of this particular discount, they can take advantage of the drive up groceries and meals for their families.

Another local business that has adapted to the current situation is Fizz Bakery in Stockton.  In the past, the bakery has focused on custom cakes for large parties such as weddings and birthday parties.  However, with the shelter in place order, these events simply aren’t happening. So, bakery owner Tiffany Villafuerte adapted.  The bakery’s Instagram (@fizzbakery) is still showing off their custom cakes, but has turned its focus to small cakes for intimate family events.  

In addition to cakes, cupcakes and pastries, Villafuerte has also expanded her selection to include more necessities.

“Many stores are running low on bread, so we are actually making loaves of bread, biscuits, croissants, ham and cheese croissant sandwiches and other items that can be used for meals,” Villafuerte said.

To minimize contact and protect customers and staff, the bakery is only allowing one customer in the store at a time, but they are also offering curbside pickup in the parking lot as well as delivery.  Villafuerte assures customers that every effort is being taken to ensure the safety of both customers and staff.

“All areas are sanitized before and after dealing with a client,” Villafuerte said.  “This includes door handles, the glass case, the cash register and pin pad area.”

In addition, all employees wear masks and gloves, changing gloves and washing hands between each customer or task, and hours of operation have been reduced in order to limit exposure.

With the shelter in place order in effect, it’s easy to see how small businesses such as Michael David and Fizz could struggle: many people don’t consider wine and cupcakes to be essential services worth risking an excursion for.  However, rather than accept this fact, these businesses have risen to the occasion by making an effort to offer essential services, many of which sell out quickly in big chain grocery stores.

“Clients are really receptive and very happy that we are making these new items,” Villafuerte said.  “We often sell out and clients make special orders ahead of time.”