Long Beach eatery's simple, stark message resonates amid pandemic: 'Eat here or we both starve'

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Across from the Del Taco and next to the Taco Bell, there is a sign outside an eatery on Palo Verde Avenue that's hard to ignore: "Eat here or we both starve."

It is a simple statement of survival, and its resonating with customers.

"Before I became a nurse, I was an independent truck driver, so I understand how hard it is to maintain -- especially when the economy takes this dive," said customer and Compton resident Gerri Heard.

That's just what Bill Cheves wants to hear. He is the owner of the Sideyard Cafe and the man behind the stark message.

"I saw it on an old banner on Highway 395 about 20 years ago, on the way to Mammoth, and I thought it was appropriate for the things that are going on now with COVID," Cheves told ABC7.

Like many independent restaurants in Long Beach, the SideYard Cafe has been hit hard by the pandemic.

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And with several other nearby food choices available to patrons, Cheves needed a way to connect with customers. He also needed a better menu.

"We just bring a fresh menu to the neighborhood," he said. "Taco Bell and Del Taco will always be there, but the neighbors are really enjoying (our) fresh food."

Good food with a neighborly touch -- and that's turning out to be good for everyone.

"Supporting independent people or just people trying to stay afloat -- it is always a good feeling," said customer Kelicia Moore, who lives in Arizona.

"Eat here or we starve" -- it spells out what is at stake for every small independent restaurant during the coronavirus pandemic -- a reminder that when times are tough, neighbors help neighbors.

And in this case, it's working.
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