small businesses

‘It's Coming Back': Business Is Booming Again for Small Bay Area Companies

NBC Universal, Inc.

It appears two years of struggling to stay open is finally starting to pay off for many Bay Area small businesses.

From caterers to DJs, entertainment businesses say they're booked through the summer.

Master chef Gloria Castaneda with Catering For All Occasions is preparing for a big graduation – 3,000 people at Stanford University – this weekend. After the pandemic broke out, she had to rely on federal loans and grants to get by.

"Things were really bad," she said. "We borrowed a big chunk of money."

NBC Bay Area’s Raj Mathai spoke to UCSF’s Dr. Peter Chin-Hong and senior scientist at 23andMe, Stella Aslibekyan, about the latest COVID surge and long-haul symptoms.

But business is booming again. Castaneda said it's double what it was pre-pandemic, and she's ready.

"Don’t give up," she said. "When the bad times come, don’t give up because in the good times, we’ll make it."

The catering company said its biggest issue is staffing, saying it now turns down 70% of contracts because it doesn't have the people to keep up with demand.

Business is also booming for DJ Rafi Nalvarian.

"It’s coming back," Nalvarian said. "People are now excited about getting married again."

Weddings, graduations and other parties are keeping Nalvarian busy, a huge shift from when the pandemic had him asking if the party was over for good.

"It was incredibly challenging," he said. "I’ve never been tested, myself and my business partner, we've never been challenged as business owners as we were through COVID."

To make ends meet, Nalvarian switched to real estate for two years. Now he's thriving in two industries.

"It's been exciting," he said. "Never thought it would turn into that, but here we are, and I couldn’t be happier."

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