By Parisa Braun
Treehouse and Coffee House (CoHo), two popular Stanford restaurants in Tresidder Memorial Union, have been temporarily shut down due to COVID-19 since mid-March and are facing an uncertain future from coronavirus-related financial deficits. The losses might only be made worse by the rerouting of funds and additional resources towards necessary sanitation if they are allowed to open when students return to campus.
“We just do not know how long ‘temporary is going to be,”’ wrote Ray Klein, owner and operator of both restaurants, in an email to The Daily. “The campus is like a ghost town with very few potential customers.”
In recent months, campus businesses that generally rely on income from students have been devoid of customers, leading them to make necessary changes to their spending and employment. Treehouse and CoHo “have employees that have been with us for many years, and managers that have been with me for 30 years, but they are struggling to hang on,” Klein wrote.
Klein says his experience is “no different” than most other restaurants closed due to COVID-19, and the actions he is taking to support his business do not differ much from others in similar situations.
Though customers cannot go to the physical sites of these businesses, Treehouse and CoHo continue to offer some services in the hope of bringing in some money.
“Looking back, we were already doing some take-out and pick-up,” Klein wrote. However, Treehouse and CoHo must obtain University approval to continue take-out and pick-up options, and they are awaiting an answer before resuming these services.
Businesses around the world have been coping with the drastic effects of COVID-19 by applying for financial assistance from various organizations. These funds serve the purpose of assisting employees who have been out of work or experiencing pay cuts. The Payroll Protection Plan (PPP), a form of federal assistance, is a common route for businesses in need of support to apply for.
“I have applied and received the Payroll Protection Plan that was intended for the employees, for which we have now distributed all of that funding,” Klein wrote. “It was a big help for the employees that have been out of work. Nothing available moving ahead.”
This support provided by the PPP took two months to receive. The funds were then distributed to Treehouse and CoHo employees in a schedule laid out by federal guidelines. Klein further noted that he has not received state funds.
At this point, both Treehouse and CoHo are currently closed as instructed by local and University guidelines, contrary to their take-out offered earlier in the month. They are pending University approval to resume these services. Some restaurants in Stanford are currently open, such as the Axe and Palm and Coupa Cafe. In order for Treehouse and CoHo to reopen, like all other restaurants, they must work with their building liaisons in order to finalize their reopening plans. Upon reopening, the sanitary conditions of the restaurants will be upheld to the comprehensive county, state and University guidelines.
“We are going to adhere to those guidelines,” Klein wrote. “We find those to be appropriate for the safety of the students and customers.”
The guidelines provided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) require customers to maintain proper social distancing and mask-wearing techniques. Employees will be required to routinely sanitize work areas, modify the layout of the restaurant to meet distancing protocols. Ventilation and water systems will be regularly checked to minimize the risk of increased contamination.
Treehouse and CoHo hope to reopen to customers as soon as students and staff return to campus, and that, with support from locals and returning students, these businesses will be able to recover.
Contact Parisa Braun at parisabraun ‘at’ gmail.com.