The city may soon formally recognize longstanding businesses that continue to positively impact the community in spite of suffering though the COVID-19 pandemic.
Members of the City Council’s Economic Development and Technology Committee (EDTech) on Tuesday said they supported the idea of a business “legacy” recognition program.
However, they were not excited about labeling the business with the name legacy after Councilmember Andy Wilson, an EDTech Committee member, pointed out that it made the businesses sound outdated.
“It’s challenging times and it’s these businesses that have history that make our retail fabric and our service fabric work,” Wilson said at Tuesday’s meeting. “At least acknowledging them and trying to be supportive as we can is a noble and worthwhile gesture. Hopefully, we can make it more than a gesture.”
The program would create a process in which storefronts, restaurants or other local companies that have been operating for 30, 40, 50 years or longer could be acknowledged and celebrated.
Pasadena is home to a variety of businesses that have been operating in the city for well over 50 years and have contributed to the culture of the community.
Long Beach, San Antonio and San Francisco have started similar programs.
According to city Economic Development Manager Eric Duyshart, honoring these businesses is relevant as the pandemic continues threatening small businesses.
The Chamber of Commerce has a similar program that recognizes longtime members that have been in business for extended periods of time.
In a letter to the committee, Chamber President and CEO Paul Little said he supported the idea and called on the council to celebrate the local businesses before they close due to impacts of the coronavirus.
Duyshart said the variety of businesses in a community’s downtown area or along primary commercial streets represent a significant part of what defines a city and creates a local character.
“As national retailers and online shopping continue to lure a larger portion of consumer spending, it is increasingly important to recognize elements of local commerce that help set our community apart from other cities,” Duyshart said.
A staff report lists Pashgian Brothers, Fishbeck Patios, Mijares Mexican Restaurant, which is celebrating 100 years in business this year, Anderson Business, and Vroman’s Bookstore, which has been in Pasadena 126 years, as examples of local businesses that would be eligible for Legacy honors.
In a letter to the community last month, Vroman’s Chairman Joel Sheldon said sales are down 40 percent from prior years, “A level which cannot sustain our business,” said Sheldon.
According to its website, Vroman’s is the oldest and largest independent bookstore in Southern California.
“Presenting these businesses with a plaque and a window decal to celebrate their contribution to the community is a great way to honor them,” the staff report stated. “Such a program can also provide the city with a structured mechanism to recognize and help promote these retailers and restaurants that are unique to Pasadena.”