PEORIA, IL (WMBD) — The impact of COVID-19 has left many small business owners relying on community support to help keep their businesses afloat.
However, numerous small business owners in the Hispanic community said they almost feel forgotten.
The Hispanic community in Peoria has slowly grown over the years, creating different businesses to share their culture with the city. Many of these same entities, such as Palarte Frida, are not sure how much longer they can go on.
“It’s been hard, it’s been very stressful,” Jenni Vega, co-owner of Palarte, said. “We’ve been working very hard trying to get people to come over.”
Vega said the impact of Illinois’ stay-at-home order almost caused the ice cream shop to close its doors for good.
“It was a very hard decision to take because there were days where we wouldn’t get a single customer,” Vega said. “If we close our doors, we’re gone forever.”
She said with the shop being run by two single mothers and no employees, they weren’t able to qualify for small business loans. Vega said this makes their business rely solely on the support from the community.
Pedro Quintero, owner of Perico’s Fast Tacos, said although he owns a fairly recent restaurant they were doing well before the shelter-in-place order took effect. He said, now, the recent lack of traffic for carry-outs led his restaurant to a temporary close.
“We weren’t generating enough money,” Quintero said. “We weren’t generating enough to pay our employees or maintain the restaurant open.”
A few customers who passed by Hacienda El Mirador, Saturday, in Junction City were questioning if the restaurant was still operating even though there was an “open sign” in its window. They said the area seemed like a ghost town.
Many small businesses in the Hispanic community also said throughout this entire pandemic, they haven’t been receiving any support from the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Vega said she’s grateful Palarte is starting to receive slightly more foot traffic, after posting a message on Facebook revealing the shop’s uncertain future.
She said, overall, small businesses are the heart of the community and minority businesses need all the support they can get.
“It’s not a job,” Vega said. “It’s something that we do from our hearts.”