SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Wall Street Café on West Washington Street in Suffolk is an example of what a recent Facebook survey found: that minority and women-owned small businesses in Virginia are emerging from the pandemic more easily than their national counterparts.
The social media giant surveyed about 500 Virginia firms among 35,000 worldwide.
Its data showed 80% of Virginia women-owned businesses and 83% of Virginia minority-owned businesses are operational, five and 10 percentage points above the national average respectively.
“It is a double challenge, being a mom,” said Wall Street Café Co-owner Danita Hayes. “Making sure that you’re still present, and especially with COVID and everything that’s going on, with the kids are doing school virtually.”
“[Women who own small businesses] have had to take on a large part of the domestic duties, whether it’s taking care of their children or the health of a family member,” said Facebook Policy Manager Diana Doukas.
Hayes says their lunch business has thrived now that Suffolk City Hall and courthouse employees are returning to the workplace. The cafe opened in October.
“Everybody was working from home, so we weren’t getting those clientele in here. Now that they’re back to work, they’re starting to come down,” she said.
Hayes and Epps say they have leaned on social media to increase their presence, which Hayes says has been “a saving grace for us.”
They use Facebook and Instagram to not only keep customers abreast of the latest specials, but also about the business, history and cultural discussions they organize.
“We have an educational component, from Forex, to real estate, to stocks,” Epps said. “For people to come in and talk about business, signing contracts, etc.”
“Several small businesses have increased their social media footprint dramatically” during the pandemic, according to Doukas.
The local business owners say they’ve gotten a lot of support from the City of Suffolk, including a grant for rehabilitating a historic property. Individual cities as well as the Small Business Administration have resources to aid small business owners.
Late last year, we profiled Hummingbird Macarons on Granby Street in Norfolk which, like Wall Street Café, is both minority and woman-owned. Owner Kisha Moore says starting up during the pandemic was like going through surgery — and now she’s in the recovery room. She says she’s still trying to get a PPP loan.
Small business loan programs from the Seven Cities: