MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. — While coronavirus restrictions are lifting, the nearly three-month closure created a major financial loss for Kelley Haley, who owns Homie, a restaurant and coffee shop hangout in Manhattan Beach.

“Initially, it was slow and I personally got nervous and thought, how was I going to keep the doors open,” Haley said.

What You Need To Know

  • Two residents created the Local Love for Manhattan Beach organization to help small businesses in the community

  • The organization raised over $600,000 and distributed 47 grants to small businesses

  • Majority of the funds came from Manhattan Beach residents

With a reduction in staff and takeout only, Haley’s business was hanging on by a thread.

“We’ve just maintained, about the first week of April, I went into the red and was now taking out of my personal savings,” Haley said.

Haley was forced to downsize her staff of 15 to just two employees while her business struggled to keep its doors open. In fear of seeing Homie and other small businesses in Manhattan Beach close, Jeff and Peir Serota stepped in and helped raise over $600,000 in grant funds through their organization called Local Love for Manhattan Beach.

The funds were raised and distributed with the help of other residents, the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce, and the one2one USA Foundation to provide more than 47 grants to small businesses in need. Haley was one of the recipients.

“We felt that if they didn’t get money quickly they would have to close their doors and so there was a real urgency to getting a local community fund together to help them weather the financial aspects of the pandemic,” Jeff Serota said.

“And also you know the town is so vibrant. Everyone is always walking around enjoying the local restaurants the local retail and if you know this pandemic forced them to shut doors the vibrancy of this town would just go away,” Peir Serota said.

Seeing the community come together for small businesses was an overwhelming gesture Haley said she couldn’t be more grateful for.

“I started crying. When they told me I got the grant. I usually don’t get this emotional. This will make a huge difference,” Haley said.

The grant brought Haley some financial relief and a hopeful outlook that her business and this community will make it out of this pandemic together.