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Cornish Pasty Co., Bajamar Seafood & Tacos still serving downtown Las Vegas

Struggling restaurants hoping to return to normal
Cornish Pasty Co. serving arts district from drive-through market
Cornish Pasty Co. serving arts district from drive-through market
Cornish Pasty Co. serving arts district from drive-through market
Bajamar still serving seafood and tacos downtown
Bajamar still serving seafood and tacos downtown
Posted at 11:38 PM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 14:29:34-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Many businesses have had no choice but to lay off employees during the tough economic times caused by the novel coronavirus. That's true for at least 2 restaurants downtown with large fan followings. Now, Cornish Pasty Company and Bajamar Seafood & Tacos are doing everything they can to bring their full staff back.

If you've never heard of a Cornish pasty, you're not alone. But after seven years of serving the Las Vegas community, Cornish Pasty Co. has made downtown a destination for these authentic British meat pies.

"We kind of have a little bit of a cult following it seems like. People just love the idea because I think it's something most people aren’t familiar with," said John Bender, an owner and manager at Cornish Pasty Co.

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Bender and his fellow owner/manager, Scott Brunstetter, have transformed the back of Cornish Pasty Co. off Charleston Boulevard in the Arts District, into a drive-through marketplace to help staff and customers stay socially distant while placing and filling orders.

"Obviously, we can’t have people in the restaurant now, so it is the perfect space for us to keep the distance and still help people out," said Brunstetter.

Cornish Pasty Co. is offering at least a dozen different kinds of their signature pasties. Plus, customers can buy soups, sides, desserts, and with the city of Las Vegas' blessing, a variety of beer and wine to-go.

"Offering that [alcohol] probably increased our sales 20%-30%, so it definitely is helping the bottom line," said Bender.

But the added business is not enough to overcome the setbacks from COVID-19. Bender says the novel coronavirus has cost them about 80% of their business, and left them no choice but to lay off 25-30 employees.

"The hardest part is having to lay off the majority of our staff, just knowing most of them are living paycheck to paycheck and seeing them struggle to get their unemployment," said Bender.

Business is not much better at Bajamar Seafood & Tacos where owner Manny Tenorio says he's lost at least 75% of his income since the outbreak of this pandemic.

"At the end of the day, we have been struggling big time and I’m not sure how much longer we’re going to stay open," said Tenorio.

But before he's forced to close down, Tenorio is doing everything he can to compensate his employees, including pooling and dividing all tips from his two locations equally between all employees, and selling raffle tickets for a dinner for four to benefit his staff.

"They are hurting. I know they’re hurting. The company is hurting. But, we’re trying to do our best to keep them because, at the end of the day, they still have to pay rent. They still have to take care of their little ones. So, we don’t have a problem with doing as much as we can," said Tenorio.

Owners at both Bajamar Seafood & Tacos and Cornish Pasty Co. say they plan to continue cooking great food with the goal of bringing back their full staffs as soon as possible.

"I still try to get up with the same attitude, thinking that it's going to go away soon. But, I have to show my employees, show people that come in, that we stay positive," said Tenorio.