With coronavirus numbers surging at unprecedented rates and Los Angeles County restaurants once again forced to halt in-person dining, many eateries throughout the region are struggling to survive.

On historic Olvera Street, restaurants that have delighted residents for decades now fear they won’t be able to stay open.

That’s the case for Juanita’s Cafe, a traditional Mexican eatery that’s been around since 1944.

“Some of the businesses here, unfortunately, have shuttered completely and will never be returning and it’s very heartbreaking because I’ve known these people for generations,” said Edward Flores, owner of Juanita’s Cafe.

The owner was forced to lay off employees to stay afloat, and now Flores is seeking donations to help pay for rent, payroll, utilities and other operating expenses. A GoFundMe page was set up to raise funds for the restaurant.

Miles away in Hollywood, another historic restaurant also faced an uncertain future.

On the iconic red doors of Miceli’s Restaurant, a neon “Take Out” sign lit up the entryway. Inside, brothers Joe and Frank Miceli reminisced about the old days — before COVID-19.

“It’s a real family story,” Joe Miceli said. “My parents were both first generation Americans, both born during the Depression and they lived the American dream.”

The Italian restaurant —the oldest in Hollywood — was founded by the family in 1949. Before the pandemic, more than 8,000 people would flood into the eatery each month.

Now, with services limited to take-out and delivery, the restaurant is fighting to keep its doors open.

Miceli’s niece set up a GoFundMe page to help the family raise $75,000 to pay for operating costs, and eventually, to open again and provide jobs for 40 or so employees.

L.A. County suspended dining at restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars Nov. 25, saying the ban will last at least three weeks due to an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases. After that, a stay-at-home order from Gov. Gavin Newsom also halted in-person dining.


By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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