Two small restaurateurs manage during a pandemic


Saihaj Cheema

India Oven, one of several restaurants run by the Cheemas, has struggled with staffing over the course of the pandemic.

Due to the global pandemic, small businesses have faced a major hit, making it difficult for them to stand their ground. 

It is necessary for them to keep up with the government mandates, however, it may not be as simple as it sounds.

Rajdeep and Ramandeep Cheema,  the owners of India Oven, White Lotus , White Orchid, and franchises of Sourdough and Co. , have formed their own opinion on the situation.

“The government should pay as close attention to smaller businesses as they do to the larger ones,” Rajdeep Cheema said. 

“Although they tried to focus on giving financial aid to all the businesses once, (bigger) businesses still seemed to be prioritized.”

It may initially seem that there are no major issues regarding money, because SBA and PPP loans were provided by the government. Nonetheless, even those only proved to be adequate for a short amount of time. 

“They gave businesses 35,000 to 50,000 (dollars) maximum, and it was very generous, but it was basically enough to run (for) two months,¨ Ramandeep Cheema said. 

They gave businesses 35,000 to 50,000 (dollars) maximum, and it was very generous, but it was basically enough to run (for) two months.

— Ramandeep Cheema

Money is not the only concern. There are several more factors that contribute to the difficulty of it all. One of those aspects includes finding employees. 

“The people that are unemployed are receiving $600 per week on top of EDD, therefore, nobody really wants to work,” Rajdeep Cheema said. “It is definitely a challenge to find (reliable) people when they are already being provided with a good sum of money at home.”

This is not a major issue at their Sourdough and Co., considering it’s a small sandwich shop and take out is popular. Orders are still being placed and employees are easier to find.

However, their dine in restaurant, India Oven, has been a bit harder to manage. 

“Since (India Oven) is a bigger restaurant, it needs more employees to be run properly… it is tough because a lot of money is going out of pocket in comparison to what we are getting,” Ramandeep Cheema said. 

“The property taxes and the basic rents are still there, so whether you are making a large income or not, you have to pay multiple expenses.” Rajdeep Cheema said. 

This may prove to be a bigger issue because the holiday season is finally here, which is when most businesses make a good sum of money.

“We might have to just close, because people aren’t allowed to have gatherings, so they won’t have big orders like they normally do on days such as Thanksgiving or Christmas,” Rajdeep Cheema said.

Even though they may decide to close their restaurants for the holidays, how they are handling their banquet halls has not necessarily been a choice. 

Banquet halls run based on how many people have booked it for a particular party, whether it is a wedding reception, quinceañera or etc. 

“There was a point where we were almost all booked, but now, we have been shut down since March,” Ramandeep Cheema said. “The expenses are huge, but there isn’t really anything that can be done about the situation…all we can do is hope that this whole COVID situation is over soon, and the government eventually loosens up.

We will continue to follow the government’s rules and give our well wishes for all businesses, and every person’s health.”