'Too much loss from the rain.' How businesses are coping -- or benefiting -- from recent storms

Andrea Chang, Margot Roosevelt, Samantha Masunaga, Kiera Feldman, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Weather News

LOS ANGELES — Southern California’s seemingly endless parade of storms has been disastrous for some businesses: most infamously, the Royal Paper Box Co. in Montebello, which lost its roof last week during a rare tornado.

With more rain forecast for Wednesday, businesses that operate outdoors or rely on in-person customers are bracing for another financial dry spell. That includes many restaurants and carwashes, where workers are struggling with sharply lower income.

For others, the storms can mean an operational boost. If you’ve tried to get a roofer to call you back lately, you know what we’re talking about. But delaying outdoor work for sunny days can eat into profits.

“Our small businesses are living climate-related risks acutely for the past four months,” said Kristen Jaconi, executive director of USC’s Peter Arkley Institute for Risk Management, which recently conducted a study with Deloitte that found large public companies are increasingly taking climate-related risk factors into account. “Especially in Southern California, we’re so unused to this significant amount of rain.”

Although climate experts are still studying whether recent storms are tied to global warming, such discussions seem remote to people who can’t work because of rain.

The entire dining area at Heritage Barbecue in San Juan Capistrano is outdoors — a boon during the pandemic that this winter turned into an impediment. Sales are down 50% this year from the same period in 2022, co-owner and pitmaster Daniel Castillo said.


“When it rains, people aren’t coming,” he said. “We cook overnight, while the rain is coming down, outside cooking through some of the worst rain we’ve ever had. Then the day comes, it’s still raining and we have to sit with all this food.”

The relentless storm cycle was brutal for much of the restaurant industry, leading to flooding, the closure of outdoor patios, last-minute cancellations, construction delays and service disruptions.

Several restaurants on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, including Felix and the Butcher’s Daughter, were forced to close March 21 when the power went out in Venice.

Mexican restaurant Loreto held its grand opening in Frogtown on Friday after its planned debut had to be pushed back by five months due to weather-related construction delays.


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