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Facing Pandemic-Depressed Business, Bay Area Restaurants Struggle to Stay Open

BERKELEY (KPIX) -- Restaurants have struggled throughout the pandemic and many were hoping this holiday season would give them a boost. Last year, restaurants were getting ready to package up holiday meals to go. This year, in-person dining is back but the question is: how long can restaurateurs continue to serve?

Thursday night at Revival Bar and Kitchen on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley was a busy one but business is not back to pre-pandemic levels.

"This industry was definitely affected by the pandemic," said chef/owner Amy Murray. "They say half of the workforce has disappeared and that's what it feels like."

Murray added that customers are slowly coming back but staffing is still an issue. When asked how much of a stress it has put on her, she replied, "It's horrible. It's horrible but we are really lucky that we have just enough people to run a dinner service right now."

Dinner service is not paying all the bills. Murray has looked into bringing back what has worked during the pandemic, such as offering holiday meal and cocktail kits. The key will be to open for lunch and weekend brunch.

"In January I'm hoping we can add the 10 really good-quality hires so we can expand our hours again because the landlords want their rent. Everybody is running out of patience. We want to go back to normal," Murray said.

Murray believes news of the omicron variant hasn't impacted her business yet. What she has noticed is the reluctance of seniors age 60 and over to dine out. Small businesses like hers are just hoping the new year brings more diners along with the staff to serve them.

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