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'I Feel Like I Was Extremely Resilient': Businesses Shuttered By The COVID Pandemic Begin To Reopen, Recover

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With the county's COVID numbers falling, more and more people are eating out and getting their children back into extracurricular activities and that comes as a big relief to two local business owners.

Video Transcript

- Well, one year after the pandemic forced business owners to suddenly shut down, many are getting back on their feet now that some COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. KCAL 9's Kristine Lazar shows us how two businesses she profiled last year are doing now.

KRISTINE LAZAR: It's music to Jodi Shilling's ears.

JODI SHILLING: Are you excited for class?

KRISTINE LAZAR: The return of students to her dance studio, Releve.

JODI SHILLING: We opened up inside last week and it was glorious. I got a little teary eyed seeing the children all together again.

KRISTINE LAZAR: Shilling built her studio in Northridge last year and opened the doors just three weeks before the pandemic forced them to close.

During this pandemic, were there times you didn't think you'd make it to this day?

JODI SHILLING: Every month, every month I thought I was going to lose my business.

KRISTINE LAZAR: We introduced you to Shilling back in July when she decided to turn her dance school into a learning pod for children who weren't back to school. It was her last ditch effort to save her studio.

JODI SHILLING: I feel like I was extremely resilient and very pivotal. Every month I had to get really, really creative to bring in the money. I even wrote a book and started selling books on dance.

KRISTINE LAZAR: Back in September, Tony Konnaris stood crying in his empty dining room at the Greek restaurant he opened in 1995, worried he would lose his business and have to move back to Greece. But today, he says his employees are back and his doors will stay open.

TONY KONNARIS: I am very happy that I was able to save the business, save their job, and save my house and my family.

KRISTINE LAZAR: Though Tony can only seat four tables because of COVID capacity requirements, he was able to add a space for outdoor tables in the parking lot.

KRISTINE LAZAR: After we profiled Firehouse Taverna back in September, Tony says people rallied around his restaurant, flooding it with to go orders, even sending in donations. Some of those came from people who don't even live in the area. Including a grandmother from Arizona.

TONY KONNARIS: And she sent me a check of $25. And she said on the check, that's all I can afford, but I see you, it's heartbreaking and I want to do my part.

KRISTINE LAZAR: An unexpected but welcome side effect of COVID, a community coming together. Kristine Lazar, KCAL 9 News.