Coronavirus response: OC businesses change their business model to allow purchase of food items at cost

BREA, Calif. (KABC) -- While grocery stores are only allowing a few customers inside at a time in order to promote social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, many restaurants are also stepping in to help.

Under normal circumstances, one U.S. Foods truck would be distributing to eight different dining establishments.

But on Saturday it dropped a truckload at The Dylan in Brea, all for people in the community who responded to the restaurant's offer to order basic food products for pick-up.

"I posted it, I went to bed and I didn't expect to wake up to everything that happened," said Cynthia Vigil, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Chad Reinhardt.

Instead of the 80 families they expected, more than 400 orders were placed. So they went to work -- starting with ordering 14,000 eggs, over 1,000 pounds of beans, 3,000 pounds of potatoes, and other products.

Empty SoCal restaurants pivot to delivery, takeout orders amid COVID-19 rules
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Most restaurant dining rooms across Southern California are empty of customers due to health department orders. But many people who have found grocery store shelves bare are still being fed by their favorite eateries.

The Orange County restaurant isn't making any money from that food, it is all at cost. The biggest reason they are doing it is for their employees.

"They said you don't have to pay us. We're going to still do this no matter what, and we're in it with you till the very end," Vigil said.

They're hoping people buy gift cards that will act as a lifeline to get them through the first month when they reopen.

It's a new way of life for many food-based companies across Orange County, like OC Baking Company in Orange.

The company sells bread to major clients like hotels, resorts, and pro sports teams. With 90% of its business gone, its owner has opened the wholesale bakery to the public.

"There's still a bread command in our community that we're just trying to facilitate for everyone to get fresh bread," said owner Dean Kim.

He also invited other smaller wholesalers to join him, since the farmers markets are closed. The people benefiting from all of these businesses are given a glimmer of hope, getting everything they need to feed their families.

"When we started to hear about things going awry, these are the kind of things we dreamed would positively happen, rather than negatively happen," said Reinhardt.

The owners of The Dylan said they would continue taking orders at all three of their restaurants, including Toast in Whittier and The Benediction in the city of Industry.

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