Facebook group offers lifeline to San Gabriel Valley restaurants

The SGV Eats Facebook page has helped San Gabriel Valley restaurants connect with the community and stay in business amid the pandemic.
PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- The outdoor dining shutdown in much of Los Angeles County due to the coronavirus pandemic has devastated many local restaurants, but an innovative social media company had provided family businesses a lifeline.

This year has been punishing for restaurants, but Hummus Labs in Pasadena has managed to stay afloat thanks to a Facebook page created by three local foodies when the pandemic triggered the first restaurant shutdown in April.

"Without the SGV Eats Facebook page, I probably would have shut my doors already," said Joseph Badaro of Hummus Labs.

SGV Eats is the name of the Facebook page. SGV for San Gabriel Valley, and it's become a popular platform for food buffs to find local restaurants still open for business and to post the dishes they love.

Eight months later, the page is 31,000 members strong and has become a lifeline for restaurants who were struggling.

"They right now account for about 75% of my business," Badaro said.

"It's heartwarming stories like this that keep us motivated and keep us doing what we're doing as volunteers," said Alan An, one of founders of SGV Eats.

An, Megan Lam and Brian Ngoy are the brains behind SGV Easts. All three in their 30s, with other full-time jobs grew up eating at all the small mom and pops in the San Gabriel Valley, becoming self-proclaimed cuisine connoisseurs.

When they saw their favorite restaurants shutting down they took action.

"We knew we had to do something about it. The restaurants, they were trying to stay open, but they didn't have a marketing presence or a social media presence to get the word out and let people know they're open. And that's when we started the Facebook group," An said.

"This is actually a passion of ours I would say and where we are able to give back to the community," Ngoy said.

"I don't know how to explain it, they're the ones that are keeping us alive," Harjinder Singh said.

Singh says his parents' restaurant, Nirvana Indian Cuisine in Arcadia, was seeing a handful of customers each day at best when a friend urged him to post on SGV Eats.

"I gave it a shot and all of a sudden, the restaurant took off," Singh said.

Kevin Doan says he started his Not Yo' Mama's Tea and Coffee business while he was unemployed during the pandemic and owes hit success to SGV Eats.

"I wouldn't be here without it. And it's just everything that this community is. I mean, it brings everybody together, and it's just a big network as well," Doan says.

And that network is about to be recharged as L.A. County restaurants have had to shut down all in-person dining again. The group is launching "SGV Eats Week" on Dec. 7, allowing members to pre-order special offerings and discounts from 22 participating restaurants.

"We built a really great scheduling and appointment system on our website where people are able to look at the item and order ahead of time," Ngoy said.

"We just hope that this helps in some small way," Lam said. "Not just for the restaurants who are part of the 'SGV Week' but we hope that everyone goes out and tries to support in some way because that's really what it's going to take to get through this together."

To help support "SGV Eats Week" go to www.sgv-eats.com.
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