SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Saint Patrick’s Day is typically the most lucrative day of the year for Grant Woods and his Santa Monica Irish pub, Sonny McLean’s. He never imagined he’d be shut down one day before the holiday with 100 pounds of corned beef already cooked.
“That was the beginning of the end," Woods said.
The suddenness was devastating.
Takeout wasn’t really their forte, but they eventually made the pivot in order to survive.
In May, indoor dining was allowed to resume under new guidelines. Woods invested thousands in PPE and plexiglass.
But a month later, right before 4th of July, indoor dining was shuttered again.
“You don’t expect to get shut down by your government or your leaders, with no reimbursement in essence, no help, you’re shut, and you’re meant to survive," Woods said.
While outdoor dining lasted until late November before it was shut down again, right before Thanksgiving, for Woods the damage was already done.
When we spoke to Woods in early January, he said Sonny’s was operating at a massive loss all the time.
“For the whole year, we’re at least a million dollars behind," he said.
Fearing the nearly 60-year-old pub might not weather the storm this time around, Wood reluctantly started a Go Fund Me page to boost Sonny McLean's chances of survival.
“I’ve never been one to look for a handout, but I’ve got to do something to make sure that we stay," Woods said.
Then a small glimmer of hope came in late January when outdoor dining was once again reopened in the county.
They gladly opened, but Wood was frustrated at the no TV rule, particularly with the Super Bowl just around the corner.
“Not everybody has a patio, not everybody has a backyard, not everybody has a large room. They’re still going to gather. All I can see now is we’re going to have a spike and the restaurants will get blamed," Woods said.
It’s been an infuriating and disappointing year for many of those in the service industry.
While things aren’t even close to being back to their pre-pandemic state, at this point Woods will take whatever he can get.
“We’re grateful to be open. Compared to takeout, it’s a blessing," he said.
It’s the next phase in this old pub’s pandemic saga, a saga that Woods said he hopes is closer to the end than to the beginning.