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SPECIAL REPORT: California is back in business

Businesses in Imperial County are ready to receive guests after California lifts restrictions

IMPERIAL COUNTY, Calif. (KYMA, KECY) - As California lifts their mask mandates and capacity limits, Imperial Valley resumes to open businesses and bring back live entertainment.

Robert Yepez, co-owner of Calexico Brewing Company said, “So, we’re now at 100 percent capacity and we’re allowing all our guest to come in and enjoy a beer and have a seat in any one of our seats that we have here.”

“I just want to invite all the guests that we’re still missing to come out and everything’s safer now. Everything is starting to look safer,” said Pinkis Hot Dogs owner, Luis Sandoval.

Not only can you go back out and enjoy local craft beers and food, but you can also experience live entertainment.

Osar Garcia with Blanc Image Productions said, “We’re bringing live entertainment again to Imperial County.”

Michael Aston, singer of Gene Loves Jezebel said, “Please, God, I need to get out. I need to perform. So, I’m really happy that we can. Thank God, California!”

Businesses ready to receive guests like before after a time of challenge trying to remain afloat through an unforeseen pandemic bringing new adaptations in order to survive.

“We pushed on. We did what we needed to do. Deliveries which California did allow. We also figured, we’d start to do our own canning processes,” said Yepez.

“We did Uber Eats for a long time. I was like well I’m going to deliver you know? Because people don’t want to come out so you have to bring it to them. The cars would just park and we would go up to them. So at one point we just had the cart and not even the register. We literally had the register out here so it’s like, you know things you have to adapt to but it’s okay I mean,” said Sandoval.

Hot Rods & Beer owner, Francisco Garcia, said he learned to limit on perishable food items. “Meat, fruits, veggies all that kind of stuff you can only keep it for so long so we started just buying almost week by week because we didn’t know if we were going to be shut down again or not shut down again," said Garcia.

Businesses also learned to not take anyone, or anything for granted.

“Don’t always count on your time going smoothly. This is something that came out of nowhere. You definitely have to rely on your community for sure. You have to learn how to look for all kinds of aid. There’s a lot of aid for small businesses out there,” said Yepez.

Sandoval continued to say that, “You need to appreciate everything that you have. You know if you have one customer a day then you just appreciate that customer. We did lose a lot of our customers. I don’t want to mention names, but let’s say Maria and Jose came and I say hey where’s Jose at you know? And they say, oh well they passed because of Covid. He loved hotdogs, he was always here, so that’s kind of the part where you’re like okay we lived through all that but we did lose a lot of people on our way here you know? I guess we’ll see them again.“

Some people found new opportunities during these unprecedented times.

Martin Vargas, Enchiloso Gummies and Treats owner said, “We started when the pandemic hit and we just wanted something to for people to snack on. We wanted to do something on the side. I was working and I don't know something to keep us busy.”

Adriana Belallano, is also the owner of Enchiloso Gummies and Treats and said, “First we started with our five candies; then we started posting on our Instagram.”

After using social media to sell from their own home, Adriana and Martin eventually made enough money to buy their own trailer.

Ernie Quintero, owner of Mexca Brew Company owner said, “Being locked up, I was able to focus on brewing and that part was actually kind of cool, but the rest not so good. After we got the first batch of beer going we had that available and growlers, and we were able to survive by doing curbside pick up.”

Some businesses started offering events with a purpose.

Osar Garcia with Blanc Image Productions said, “There are a lot of entertainers out there, musicians who haven’t played in over a year. This is the first indoor event and we’re doing it with passion. How? Because we’re raising money for our community for Amigos de Alejandro. They’re a local foundation that represent families with children and teenagers who are struggling with cancer.”

Although California has lifted restrictions, some businesses in Imperial County will still implement some safety measures.

This pandemic has been hard for many, but some found opportunity for growth and innovation.

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Mercedes Martinez

Mercedes Martinez joined the KSWT team as anchor/producer in October 2020. You can catch her on 13 On Your Side at 4:00pm.

Reach out to Mercedes at

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