‘Something has got to give’: Small business owners call for action amid rising costs, fewer customers – SILive.com

by | Oct 19, 2022 | Business

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — In an effort to help minority business owners who are still reeling from pandemic losses and now operating during a challenging economy, the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce recently brought New York City’s Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to the table, inviting the financially inclusive non-profit to hear the concerns of several local entrepreneurs.“Small business owners are in limbo,” Edward Gomez, a North Shore restaurateur, told the panel, detailing the struggles he has faced in operating his restaurant, Da Noi. “This is my life’s work, a labor of love, something I’ve been doing for 23 years. I used to employ over 100 people and operate eight restaurants. Now I have three establishments and feel like we’re struggling to get by. Something has got to give.”“Small business owners are in limbo,” Edward Gomez, owner of DaNoi restaurant, told the panel. (Photo courtesy of Marino PR)Facing higher costs, supply chain issues, and fewer sales with customers spending less due to inflation, Gomez was not alone in his concerns.“The price of everything is absolutely astronomical,” added Deya Felici, owner of Vinum, The Richmond, Don Cheech and The Belvedere Club. “Food costs have doubled and, in some instances, tripled, and the price of other things we use on a daily basis, like gloves and paper towels, are through the roof. We have to keep our prices low, otherwise we don’t get customers, but it’s impossible to just eat these costs. The SBA [Small Business Administration] loans were great, but now it’s time to start paying them back. We can’t defer it any longer.”Bobby Digi, co-owner of O’Henry’s Publick House on Minthorne Street, said he agrees.“It generates a lot of frustration to have this conversation,” he said. “We’ve applied for all of the programs – every grant and loan under the sun — and we didn’t get one. We’re not even sure if we will be open in December, that’s how real the situation is. And the agencies who are supposed to be helping are completely disconnected from who they’re trying to service.”Bobby Digi, co-owner of O’Henry’s Publick House, Michelle Chen, owner of Lil M Bubble Tea, and Vickiana Cappellan, owner of Kiara’s Beauty Salon, discuss the issues they’ve faced since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Marino PR)The entrepreneurial forum was hosted by LISC NY and served as the third stop of the organi …

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