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Reopening the state amid scorching summer months; how valley businesses are handling it


It's no question that restaurant business owners are relieved they can welcome customers back after the state did away with much of its pandemic-era restrictions on June 15. But just as things got better, many already were anticipating the slow summer months-- it's a given owning a business in the desert and not having tourists flocking to the area because of triple-digit temperatures.

Palm Springs reached record temperatures, and the entire Coachella Valley remained under an excessive heat warning through Monday night.

"It's down from of course April and May when everyone was still in town and we were very busy, but we like it enough that we've had a little bit of traffic. At least we're able to sit people inside," owner of French Rotisserie Cafe owner, Fabienne Struell said.

Struell anticipated a slow season, having owned a business in the valley for three years.

"We knew that, we’ve been doing this for 3 years now and after Memorial Day weekend it just drops dramatically," she said.

While some businesses have reported a very slow season, others including French Rotisserie Cafe, have maintained a steady rate of customers.

"I would say it’s almost a little busier. Last summer for sure was terrible. We had customers in the tent with the fans and the misters and taking a shower while they were having lunch so this is a great improvement," Struell said.

"It’s really nice but I’m glad that this restaurant survived COVID because this is one of the best restaurants in the valley-- I feel like I’m safe here," Palm Springs resident, Regina Jones said.

Jones is a regular at the restaurant. Last year she skipped coming altogether in the summer because of the limitations. Now she's back to coming once a week.

"Since the reopening it feels comfortable. I feel like home, I feel like this place, the service, the food and the owners, everyone-- when you pass that threshold it transcends time, it transcends everything," Jones said.

"I think one of the positive changes is that we actually got to expand our space outside during COVID and now we can’t use it because of the heat. The minute fall comes back we will still be able to have more seating area than we did before COVID because people now have experience sitting outside and enjoying dinner not just indoors. I think that will open up more seats actually," Struell said.

At Keedy's Fountain & Grill in Palm Desert breakfast hours are as busy as ever.

"I’ve been coming here 40 years or so and it feels like right now the same as it was 40 years ago," Keedy's customer, Scott Fishel said.

The restaurant has nearly returned to how it was before the pandemic, despite a slow summer season.

The difference this year: people get to sit inside rather than outside.

"It seems almost back to normal," Fishel said.

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Shelby Nelson


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