by: Christian Galeno
BAKERSFIELD, (KGET) – Just 12 months ago, the sounds of music and happy bar patrons were not heard. Real-life alley cats were the only ones hanging outside of ‘Guthries Alley Cat’.
“So good to be back, look closer to normal,” said Guthrie’s owner, Trisha Reed Fike. “Everybody at least in our area, in our town, they’ve been so hungry for their normal lives.”
One of those hungry and thirsty for a drink across the red doors at the Alley Cat is Gary Fraser.
“We never had anything like this,” said Fraser. “Then here we are two years later.”
Two years after the first case of COVID-19 was detected in Kern, business owners in the small Downtown alley are reflecting on the abrupt and desperate measures the pandemic forced them to take to stay afloat.
Down the alley at ‘Two Goats and The Goose’, Shawna preps to open for the day. Reducing the days and hours of operation was how Haddad Byers thinks she was able to stay afloat thru the past year.
“It was a huge force,” said Haddad Byers. “We have to figure out a way to safely function for everyone’s comfort and stability.”
The responsibility did not only fall on business owners but on their loyal customers too.
“I was all about getting the vaccine,” said Fraser. “I was all about getting on with our lives, I can’t live at my house, I need to be around people.”
State unemployment data shows the local hospitality and leisure industry gained more than 4,000 jobs in January.
Reed Fike agrees their re-opening is a good sign but they ‘must be cautiously optimistic moving forward’ as new challenges arise.
“I love rollercoasters, but this was a very unpleasant rollercoaster ride,” said Haddad Byers. “The only thing really kicking us in the pants right now is inflation.”