After 25+ years, Polka Restaurant in Verdugo Village struggling to stay in business during pandemic

Tuesday, July 20, 2021
One restaurant's struggle to stay afloat during pandemic
The Polka restaurant, which serves authentic Polish food, is having a hard time bouncing back due to closure during the pandemic.

VERDUGO VILLAGE, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- L.A. County's eviction moratorium has not only given a break to residential tenants during the economic hardships brought on by the pandemic, but commercial tenants as well. Still, some businesses are having a hard time bouncing back. Case in point: The Polka Restaurant in Verdugo Village.

Since the pandemic, Mike Budny, the Polish Restaurant's owner, has struggled. Last spring, he was forced to lay off three of his seven employees. Then, the restaurant was closed for three months during the lockdown. Budny offered food to-go once it reopened, but it only accounted for 5% of his business.

Budny says he's only missed two months' rent in a year. His landlord disputes that. But Budny says he still has a future here.

"The customers are back. They want our food. But you know the back rents, we didn't get any funding from any government in anything," said Budny.

This family business opened in 1994. Budny took over mid-2011.

"My daughter was brought up over here. She's 12. My wife is working with me over here. We don't know what's going to happen," said Budny. "We hate to see this restaurant go but we're not going to give up."

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We spoke attorney Scott Talkov, who is not associated with either side.

"Sometimes it just makes more sense for the landlord to evict the tenant or demand the rent. There may have been a lot of forgiveness in the past but right now that Los Angeles county is largely reopening landlords are getting more interested in collecting full rent in their properties," said Talkov..

The L.A. County eviction moratorium is still in effect until September of this year. It's a countywide ban on evictions for residential and commercial tenants.

The Polka Restaurant's landlord says he contacted an attorney concerning this matter last week. He will be meeting with Budny on Tuesday.

"I understand his situation. He has a mortgage, but I have to take care of my family," said Budny.