Coronavirus: Popular truck-stop town Baker hit hard by decline in travelers

With the Las Vegas strip only recently back open again after a months-long closure, Baker has struggled.
BAKER, Calif. (KABC) -- It's that all important stop along the road to Las Vegas: Baker!

"Everybody comes here. They have to go to the restroom, they want lottery tickets," said veteran drag racer Jim Neilson.

Yes, there's fast food. Gas stations. The Mad Greek Café, Alien Fresh Jerky and of course, the world's largest thermometer.

But with the Las Vegas strip only recently back open again after a months-long closure, Baker has struggled.

"One of our friends told us this was really Greek food so we wanted to try it," said Alisa Bechthold.

Bechthold and Dayna Cooper stopped off in Baker for the food at the Mad Greek Café only to find it still closed.

"It's been very difficult for small businesses, so I feel for them," Bechthold said.

We spoke with the owner by phone.

"We are heavily dependent on I-15 traffic," said Mad Greek Cafe owner Larry Davour.

Larry Davour says he's using the time off to do some repairs. He's hoping to reopen in a couple of weeks, but he doesn't know what to expect when it happens.

"Our hope is to maybe make 30 to 40% realistically speaking, that will allow us to stay in operations."

And he says the businesses that are open are still having a hard time.

"They're still not seeing really good numbers."

To be sure, Baker never shut down completely.

"I'll tell you one thing that saved Baker is they allowed them to always be the drive thru. So people still got to eat, and their gas stations have to be 24 hours," Neilson said.

With Las Vegas back in business, traffic on Interstate 15 is on the rise. A good sign -- for now anyway.

"We're trying to help the economy, shopping, ok," said one woman.

"I wish them success, and I hope they can survive and keep going," Cooper said.

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