Small businesses face struggles amid Bay Area power outages

For many of the thousands of Bay Area residents still without power, it’s a second morning of waking up to no coffee and no lights.

For small businesses in the region, the outages have created yet another obstacle to add to the already existing struggles caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Nothing but a gentle breeze running through Oakland’s Montclair business district Tuesday morning, quite the opposite of what residents experienced Monday.

Only the two major grocery stores in the area opened Tuesday, running primarily from generators.

But for the rest of the smaller businesses - including a stationary store, yogurt shop, barber shop and more - the power outages present yet another hurdle.

"If it’s not one thing, it’s another," said Rob Lam, chef and co-owner of Perle wine bar in the Montclair. "Who would have thought that PG&E would set us out for literally 7 days in a year’s time? For me, that’s $40,000 to $50,000 in profit loss."

With so many restaurants going under due to the coronavirus pandemic, Lam said every day he can open is a gift.

"At least I can say my restaurant hasn’t burned down, my home hasn’t burned down," Lam said. "So we’re the lucky ones. Just got to keep staying positive and being smart as businessmen."

PG&E shut off power to more than 380,000 customers statewide in stages beginning Sunday, as a result of a major wind event and Red Flag Warning. The utility said it hopes to have all power restored to customers by Tuesday night.