SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Under the watchful eye of family, Paula Serrano began working at Español Italian Restaurant when she was 11 years old.
"I'm 73 right now," she said.
The family business survived the Great Depression and a move across town in 1965 when the construction of I-5 booted it from its original location near Old Sacramento. But a microscopic virus was the thing it couldn't overcome. COVID-19 has decimated the family business Serrano and her brother now share.
"It definitely has hit mom 'n' pop restaurants and bars... We don't have outdoor dining. We can't afford to stay open. We've run out of money," Serrano said.
To-go orders have come in but those alone can't keep the doors open.
"It's been my life, more or less. What it means to Sacramento? Everything. I am so grateful for all the customers that have come in, that love us so much, Serrano said."
Serrano said the family doesn't know if they'll eventually reopen, but she said their closure can't compare to people who are going through far worse situations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"You can't say, 'Poor me.' Let's just say-- I'm not going to say, 'Poor me.' We're going to just change. A whole new world is waiting," she said.
But that doesn't mean she won't miss it.
FOR NEWS IN YOUR COMMUNITY, DOWNLOAD OUR APP:
►Stay in the know! Sign up now for the Daily Blend Newsletter
Restaurateur Patrick Mulvaney answers your questions.