NEAR GOLETA, Calif. - When you rely on hundreds of students each day to make ends meet, seeing closed schools out of your front window is not making the grade with many local business owners.
"I can't wait until school is back in session and see all my regular kids, seeing all their faces and saying 'what's up guys?'," said Dave Reynoso from Dave's Dogs.
Some local residents near the schools, who might have bypassed a business when the lines were long, are hitting the brakes and coming in. It's helped tremendously during the slow down.
"All my local residents and people that are out having lunch for work, they get in and out pretty quick. They get a good lunch for a good bargain," said Reynoso.
The Turnpike location near Goleta is a few steps from San Marcos High School. It has been a go to place for hundreds of students and their families.
"I went to San Marcos High school and I always loved coming here after high school or before a game or something, and it's great because you know who Dave is and you see him," said Kendra Dayton.
She and a friend were coming in for tater tots. Just one of the "other than hot dogs" items on the menu.
Here Dave has widened the menu to have chicken, burgers and creative items featuring a hot Cheetos topping, mac 'n cheese with pulled pork, a taco dog, fried pickles and deep fried Oreos.
As versatile as the choices are, business is off and Dave is craving customers like he used to see daily.
The newer Dave's Dogs location is in Santa Barbara and those grills got hot last year.
The location at Canon Perdido and Milpas was perfect. It was just a block away from Santa Barbara High and the 4500 seat Santa Barbara Bowl is just up the street, which has 25 to 30 concerts a year.
Plus he has a beer license.
Dave has had to make a double comeback at that site, with no school business and now no music shows.
"I was forecasting some numbers for the Santa Barbara Bowl audience before and after the concerts. Now we lost out on that as well," he said. "But again we are serving people close by, walking from work."
Dave is street wise and solid. He started in 2014 with a cart, at night on the Eastside in an auto body repair lot. He was thrilled with his first night, selling six dogs.
Now he has the two restaurants and wants customers to remember where their dollars go when you support the little guy.
"When you come to Dave's Dogs you not only support a local business you also support 20 other employees," said Reynoso. "My goal at both of my locations is to not only have people who are from the community come and eat at my places but help my employees have a future here."
The prolonged pandemic is problematic, and many businesses are using up their reserves.
Reynoso said, "this is when people are going to make it or not, so definitely go out support not just my business but hundreds of other businesses."
He said his friends in salons and barber shops have small margins and have been struggling for months.
"Santa Barbara has been known as a tight community, let's really prove that we are," he said.
He also said his original cart is ready to be fired up at any time for special events or work place lunches.
Business experts say to survive the pandemic a plan should include strong communication with employees, accept feedback from customers, have a flexible plan, look to the future and maintain high safety and sanitation standards.
Using the Payroll Protection Plan can also be helpful, but it has to be understood and carefully managed.
There have also been changes along the way.
At first it was forgivable if 75 percent or more of the money went to payroll for eight weeks after the loan was approved. Since then, those receiving the loan have learned that agreement has been extended out to 24 weeks and the payroll funding requirement dropped to 60 percent.
The remaining money can be used for specific costs including rent and utilities.
For more information go to: Dave's Dogs Grill