Coronavirus: LA County moves to support restaurants converting into neighborhood grocery stores

Southern California restaurants are finding new ways to reinvent themselves during the coronavirus crisis, with many converting into neighborhood grocery stores to help customers get staples like milk, eggs and fresh produce.

However, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Department shut some of those restaurants down, saying they needed a specific grocery license to sell unprepared food items.

That's when L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn stepped in to find a way to keep those makeshift markets open and selling groceries legally.

"Instead of just shutting them down, I wanted to find a way that we could find a compromise that would work for everybody while we keep people safe," Supervisor Hahn told Eyewitness News.

Hahn's "urgency motion" directs the county's public health department to draft a set of guidelines for restaurants that would allow them to continue selling some groceries, but only through take-out and delivery. Instead of perusing the groceries inside a restaurant, customers will need to order the items online or by phone, like other take-out and delivery orders.

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Jim Krohn, owner of Local Kitchen in Torrance says opening his mini-market "Provisions" at the restaurant has helped keep his tavern and at least some of his employees afloat.

"It allowed me to bring back five or six more people back to keep them working rather than dealing with unemployment," Krohn said.

The dining area at Noble Bird Rotisserie in Long Beach is also closed, but the owners got creative to keep money coming in and customers well fed.

"We are continuing to pivot and pedal as fast as we can to keep up with what feels like daily changes," said restaurant co-owner, Sidney Price.

With a rotisserie chicken, customers get the option of buying a grocery bag filled with produce, bread, pasta and a recipe for chicken soup.

The owners say they've been able to hire back two workers while 30 others remain laid off.

Supervisor Hahn hopes to have the new guidelines announced by the end of this week.

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