One of the unexpected pleasures of the pandemic was seeing how local restaurateurs dealt with the uncertain business climate with grace and ingenuity. Some people actually opened new restaurants during this time, a gesture so optimistic that it filled me with wonder. Saba Rahimian and Seth Helmly were two such people. Back in December 2020, they opened Joon Market on H Street in East Sacramento, a bright spot in a dark time. A casual eatery, it served a handful of sandwiches, some bread, a few side dishes and a single smoked rotisserie item. It was really good. Unfortunately, Joon Market closed a few months ago, another victim of pandemic-related circumstances: staffing shortages, increased food costs and supply chain issues.
Rahimian recently wrote an interesting piece for Eater called “My Restaurant Couldn’t Survive Customers’ ‘Normal’ Dining Expectations.” In it, she talks about how diners’ unrealistic ideas and demanding behavior made operating a restaurant during the pandemic a nightmare. She also writes about the financial precariousness of running a restaurant. At one point, she notes, Joon Market’s weekly revenues dropped by 50 percent for 12 weeks.
These days, being a restaurateur is a very difficult and demanding proposition. For those of us who love to eat out, it’s something to think about.
You can read Rahimian’s Eater story here.