City Wok Helps Unemployed Restaurant Workers as Landlord Threatens Closure

City Wok Helps Unemployed Restaurant Workers as Landlord Threatens Closure

Daytona Everett

Many businesses are struggling to stay afloat right now and with rent due soon the anxiety is creeping in. Rancho Mirage is taking steps to help but businesses in other cities like Palm Desert are wondering if they’ll last through the month.

City Wok is one of the longest lasting businesses in the valley push back from their landlord is making their future uncertain.

“When are we going to be able to be through this crisis? When are we going to be able to reopen? When can we expect cashflow to start again? When can we rehire our staff?” Stuart Davis, the owner of City Wok in Palm Desert said with frustration.

Davis has been in the same location for 25 years and has never been late on a payment.

He, along with the other restaurants and businesses in that center are dealing with a national company, Retail Opportunities Investments Corporation, or ROIC, as their landlord.

“We got a threatening letter last week about sending in some money, we pleaded with them both over the phone and via email to help us get through this time,” Davis said. “Their response was basically to send us a link to a government website and say we’ve got bills to pay too.”

Davis has rent due on April 1st but he’s still taking the opportunity to help others. Starting on Monday, people who are unemployed in the restaurant business by City Wok and get a free hot meal to take home.

“Bring us your unemployment paperwork or anything that shows us that you’re unemployed at this time and we will feed you,” Davis said.

Other customers can also get 15% with the code, TOGO. The menu for the free meal is reduced.

Even though City Wok is doing only 35 to 40 percent of its normal business through strictly takeout orders, Davis realizes other restaurants are completely shut down.

“I thought, let’s try to do what we can even if it’s just a little bit to take care of these people who are unemployed so they can have a nice hot meal.”

Contrary to Davis’ landlord, many landlords in town are working with their tenants to get through this situation. The city of Rancho Mirage even ordered a moratorium on commercial evictions.

Palm Desert restaurants don’t have that backing yet.

“We’re open but we are operating at a loss,” Davis said. “It may seem like we’re doing a lot of business but you may want to turn the camera that way [pointing to empty tables] this is where we really make our money. At this level of business, we’re not profitable, in fact, every hour we’re open, is negative cash flow.”

City Wok is open for business everyday with only takeout orders.