Alyssa Hudson is day manager at The Galley Grill & Bar, which received a ‘Business Hero Award’ from the City for their efforts to establish outdoor seating in a breezeway between the Galley and the Port House to the south, and successfully adapting to the business restrictions of California’s pandemic response. Photo by Neil Farrell

Four local businesses were the first honorees under a new City program, recognizing efforts to endure the coronavirus pandemic, while staying open for business.

Over the past several weeks, the City launched a “Be A Face Mask Hero” and “Be A Trash Hero” campaigns, “to encourage positive, responsible and safe behaviors in our community in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jennifer Callaway, who is the City’s public information officer for the City’s virus response efforts, as well as finance director and public works director. “The campaigns have been successful, as the City sees increased compliance with face covering usage and less litter in our community thanks to all our local trash heroes who volunteer countless hours picking up litter.”

The anti-trash effort includes putting out many more garbage cans along the waterfront, coupled with hand-washing stations and big feather-style banners, which ironically businesses are technically not allowed to display under the City’s sign ordinance.

The City has now launched a third Heroes campaign, “Business Hero,” with the motto: “Not all superheroes wear capes, some stay the course in hard times.”

Father-son team, Michael (left) and Alex Wolfe are shown with the Morro Bay ‘Business Hero Award’ they received from the City for their efforts to work through the Coronavirus Pandemic response. Photo by Neil Farrell

Callaway said, “The Business Hero Program is the City’s way of thanking our local, small businesses for being resilient and persevering through these ever-changing pandemic times. COVID-19 is particularly challenging and impactful to our small business community, requiring proprietors to shutter for some period and upon reopening, adjusting their service models to keep their employees and customers safe.”

The campaign is a way to acknowledge the challenges businesses have had to endure to survive and for being “creative, flexible, and responsive.”

The City plans to honor four businesses every month, one from each of the four businesses zones in town — the waterfront, Downtown, Quintana Road and North Main Street.

The first four awardees are: The Avocado Shack, located at 2190 N. Main St.; Fitness Works, 500 Quintana Rd.; Top Dog Coffee, 857 Main St.; and The Galley Grill & Bar, 899 Embarcadero.

“These businesses,” Callaway said, “have worked hard to comply with COVID-19 restrictions and modifications to remain open and continue to provide services to our community.

Fitness Works, 500 Quintana Rd in Morro Bay, moved equipment outside to help keep people in shape during the pandemic.
Photo by Neil Farrell

“From creatively providing outdoor fitness opportunities, outdoor dining, providing spacing and routing lanes that are adequate to meet physical distancing requirements, to wearing face coverings and observing sanitation and disinfecting standards.”

The City launched the Business Hero Campaign Sept. 8 recognizing them during the City Council meeting. Callaway told Estero Bay News that the businesses were picked by City staff using a number of criteria, including whether there have been code enforcement complaints filed by the public over adherence to the City’s Coronavirus guidelines.

“We get a lot of calls about certain businesses,” Callaway said, “not following the guidelines.” She, Community Development Director Scot Graham, City Manager Scott Collins and others chose the first honorees.

The businesses will get “Business Hero” signs to display in their windows or to hang on the wall, “as a reminder of the City’s gratitude and appreciation for staying the course, staying open, and being resilient,” Callaway said.

The City is also emphasizing the importance — perhaps now more than ever — of supporting local, small businesses during the coronavirus business closures.