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Local entrepreneurs moving ahead during pandemic

Entrepreneurs moving ahead during pandemic
Local entrepreneurs persevere through pandemic
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Posted at 5:01 PM, Sep 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-21 18:01:57-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The start of the pandemic was an unsure time for entrepreneurs to start local businesses.

But some here in the Coastal Bend are finding success despite the challenging circumstances.

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Business applications nearly doubled during the first few months of the pandemic in 2020, going from just more than 234,000 in April to just more than 558,000 in July.

Here in the Coastal Bend, some local business owners said social media is helping operate their businesses.

Emilio Venegas, owner of Southside Tacos, opened his business in January. He said he is adapting by utilizing Facebook, Instagram and curbside pickup.

"Offering takeout and delivery ... trying to set all of those up that way people don't have to go into the restaurant, because not everyone is comfortable with it," Venegas said. "We are just giving options for everybody."

Sal Vatore Colicci, owner of Sal's Bronx Pizza and Bel Luna Downtown, said the majority of his businesses have always been dine-in. But because of the pandemic, he is now focusing more on curbside, take out and in-house delivery.

"Especially in the last couple of weeks with the new delta variant, people seem a little bit more concerned," Colicci said. "I have definitely seen an influx in our online activity."

Both business owners said they have noticed some extra challenges, like having to adjust to the lack of staff and getting needed supplies. Both lived through the Texas February freeze which they said affected business.

"And we are even having weird issues like, I can't get Mexican Coke ... certain flavors of the Mexican drinks or the Jarisco's just because now I am hearing there is a glass shortage and a plastic shortage and those things will effect us and because I can't have the product that we need," said Venegas.

"Inflation, yes, product availability," added Colicci.

But both say they don't regret opening their businesses during the pandemic.

"You have to have the opportunity and you have to have a plan," Venegas said. "I would have never dove into it if I wasn't confident in the market that was there and the plan that we put in place for it."

Economists said the availability of broadband, better internet speeds and tech savviness are making it easier to get businesses online, so we could expect to see more entrepreneurs in the Coastal Bend going forward.

"I was actually very impressed and surprised by the amount of business and support that we got opening a restaurant during the pandemic," Colicci said. "It was wonderful."