This week The Islander launches an ongoing series on the state of the local restaurant industry.
Trudy Robinson, owner of Eric’s on the Beach in Avalon, said she would do her best to stay in business. The Catalina Islander recently emailed the owners and managers of local restaurants to ask how they are doing in the face business challenges that the pandemic has inflicted on the local dining industry. The following is the interview.
Catalina Islander: What challenges are you facing with the changing restaurant environment?
Trudy Robinson: Thank you for reaching out. My revenue is fair at this time, however I don’t look forward to sustaining income through the winter. I do not have enough employees for a more extensive schedule. Our government in Washington D.C. has seen to it that we cannot get seasonal employees on the seasonal visa program. That has been a big blow.
Islander: Has city staff been helpful? Has your business received support from the city?
Robinson: I have not required any assistance from the city, however the powers that be there have offered assistance if I do require some. I am located on the pier and the harbormaster has been most helpful and considerate with the problems that we’re facing.
[Three] days a week I am on the pier, five hours a day in the sun monitoring. I cannot expect my employees to be in harm’s way.
Islander: Have you or your staff had problems with customers who object to the mask mandate?
Robinson: Yes I have had problems with the tourists and the repeat guests and Islanders. Just yesterday I had a group who comes to the island every year. They felt and acted, especially the women, very entitled.
They were very concerned and felt they should speak to the owner. They became confrontational with me at which time I needed to be very patient and diplomatic. Refuting the fact that I was the owner.
They then became very derogatory toward me [insisting] that I was not the owner and that I could not tell them what to do and started to physically and verbally shush me away.
At that point they did not know what to do one of their members said we better leave.
My manager tells me that four of them came back later two men and two women. The men were absolutely perfect to deal with and the women said nothing, but they asked my manager who “That” woman was. Of course he said she’s the owner. Never heard another peep out of them while they were there. I think the men were very embarrassed by these six women.
Later I thought I better be careful somebody might come up and smack me.
I told my employees I would not accept disrespectful or entitled behavior toward them or anyone else, because I do not acknowledge bad behavior. I had two other incidents, both with women in groups.
Islander: Do you expect to still be in business next year?
Robinson: This business has been in the family since 1940 – 80 years in six months. I will do my darndest to have this business be in business next year.
Robinson: I received some money from the PPP loan, only half of which I was qualified for. But did not receive the full amount. Very disappointing.
Robinson: Side note. I feel the City should post notices at the boat, at entry to island and both ends of the street. Post some notices That say. WEAR A MASK WHILE IN AVALON OR YOU WILL BE CITED UNDER CODE SEC———- AND SUFFER A $100.00 FINE. Large, direct and eye level. People should get the hint real quick!!!!! No more messing around.