Editor's note: This is the first of a series of 4 mini articles written by Yara Elian, a High School Senior, providing an insight into how local Bay Area restaurateurs are coping in these uncertain economic times caused by the Covid 19 pandemic. If you are local to the Bay Area, please support these featured restaurants. If you are not local to Bay Area, please support your local restaurants- they really are in need of our patronage!
Chef Guisell Osorio of Sabores del Sur remains optimistic even during the uncertain COVID-19 times. It is hard to keep the business afloat, overall sales are off well over 50%. The take-out business has been active but not enough to even come close to replacing in-store sales.
“We have found a way to keep our staff working while this crisis plays out”, Chef Guisell shares. She partnered with the World Central Kitchen (WCK), a non-profit supporting people who need a nutritious meal. With this program, Sabores Del Sur is providing several hundred low-cost (but delicious) meals per week which are then delivered by WCK to healthcare workers, first responders and school children in the Oakland School Dist. While Chef Guisells says, “It is an honor to be part of such a worthwhile cause,” I keep thinking about how incredibly big and giving her heart is. Very few are able to help others while they are struggling themselves.
After the crisis hit, many ethnic restaurants in the Bay Area closed completely. Sadly, Sabores del Sur is now the ONLY Chilean restaurant in the Bay Area, but it also presents an opportunity for Chef Guisell.
Guisell has been touched that a lot of Chileans have been ordering from “Sabores del Sur”. It warms Guisell’s heart that many are trying to support their favorite restaurants to be sure they don't close for good. She even had customers plead with her "Please don't close. You're the only place I can get a taste of home."
Since Covid-19, the restaurant reduced their operations to take-out and delivery and cut the hours to Mon - Sat 11am -2pm, although they are planning to open for dinner takeout and delivery soon. Chef Guisell is optimistic and plans to make good use of our open-air patio to seat customers with proper social distancing once Shelter-in-Place orders are lifted.
Chef Guisell is thinking ahead about how she can best-serve her customers in a post-covid-19 economy. She is evaluating many creative solutions for keeping customers and staff safe and is gearing up her tech people to be sure her restaurant is on the forefront of the changes that are coming. She is also working on packaging some of the most popular items for online or in-store sales, such as our salad dressing and salsa.
If you would like to make a South American picnic in your backyard, order some of Sabores’ famous sandwiches such as Ave Pimentón (Poached organic chicken breast with roasted peppers, smoked paprika, parsley & aioli) or Churrasco (Grilled steak with tomato, avocado & aioli or Pan con Chicharrón (Peruvian-style fried pork with sweet potato & onion salad). Most sandwiches are made with a traditional bread called Marraqueta, Chile’s version of a French baguette. But there are also other traditional dishes, salads, empanadas, and of course, Chef’s Guisell’s famous Alfajores cookies. You have to get those!
“Mil gracias” to Chef Guisell for her big heart, your care for her workers, and her community.
Sabores del Sur
3003 Oak Rd., Ste. 105, Walnut Creek, CA 94597
Yara Elian is a Senior at Northgate High School in the San Francisco Bay Area, who loves languages, cultures, food, and writing.