ARCADIA, Calif.  –  For the last 13 years, Dustin Nicolarsen has opened the doors to the Derby Restaurant in Arcadia. Every time, he's reminded of its iconic place in the city.   

“The Derby is Arcadia," he said. "When you think of something in the city that’s always been here, the Derby is one of those things. The Derby and the racetrack.”

Open since 1922, it's a restaurant that's seen its share of history. But nothing compares to what it's been through over the last five weeks. 

What You Need To Know

  • The Derby is longstanding Arcadia institution

  • Has survived World Wars, earthquakes and more

  • Coronavirus pandemic has Derby's future in question

  • Restaurant is awaiting word on PPP loan

“It’s survived the great depression, World Wars, and earthquakes," Nicolarsen said. "This is the first time we’ve ever been thinking, 'Are we going to survive this one?'”

Like so many other restaurants, the Derby is struggling to keep its doors open amidst the coronavirus pandemic. With Santa Anita Racetrack also closed, it's been a double hit to the restaurant. 

“When they’re open and busy, we’re busy," he said. "Not having the racetrack, it’s definitely been a big, big adjustment.”

He and his staff have altered their business model and cut down their staff of almost 60 to just nine people. And yet, without an influx of cash flow, Nicolarsen said they will run out of money as early as the second week of May. 

“Chaotic, uncertain and scary. Those would be the three words that come to mind," he said when asked about what the last few weeks have been like. 

While the Derby applied for and was granted a PPP loan by the government, they have not yet received any financial assistance. As it stands now, their loan sits in limbo. 

“The amount we applied for was just shy of $350,000. So, it's a large amount of money," he said. "Having that just sitting in limbo and not knowing whether that’s gonna happen or not is a really scary thing.”

Without the loan, Nicolarsen and his general manager Tyler Zikuski can just look forward to new guidelines that might allow for their reopening in some manner. 

“Right now, anything would be better than what we are dealing with," Zikuski explained. "So, even operating at 50 percent capacity would be a welcome change. Just coming back is our main goal.”

As for Nicolarsen, who has a long history at the restaurant, it's been a scary time. He doesn't know what is going to happen, but he does know one thing. 

“I wanna do my best to make sure it stays alive during this process.”

And he's asking the community to help, rallying around the Derby for a long race ahead.

To place a to-go order, call the Derby at 626.447.2430 or visit their website