16 Apr 2021

SPECTRUM NEWS: Despite the Pandemic, people are starting new businesses

By Joseph Pimentel

Spectrum News, Publish Date: April 2021

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, business restrictions, and the restaurant industry’s struggles last year, Panzarello and his wife signed a 5,100 square foot lease in March to open a new restaurant at the Mountain Plaza retail center in Upland.

Panzarellos, the name of the restaurant, will be an Italian and Mexican fusion joint, a “blend of two cultures,” James Panzarello said. Panzarello is an Italian American. His wife, Lilly, is a Mexican American.

“The market is right,” Panzarello said. “We looked at the market. We felt confident with herd immunity coming around, the vaccines coming around, and the rate people are getting the vaccine. We felt confident that this is the right time to open a restaurant.”

Panzarello is not alone.

Regardless of the continuing coronavirus pandemic, commercial retail real estate brokers are noticing an uptick in interest of entrepreneurs signing retail and restaurant space since the start of the year.

People are craving and sensing a return to normalcy, and entrepreneurs and businesses are trying to capitalize on the pent-up demand once the pandemic is over, possibly later this year, experts said. It’s an encouraging sign that the U.S. economy is bouncing back.

“Things have been super busy. There’s a lot of positive energy,” said Roxanne Klein, a retail sales and leasing specialist at Progressive Real Estate Partners. Klein has helped her clients find retail space and sign leases for new retail, restaurants, and staffing agency businesses.

“Things were challenging during the pandemic,” she said. “But there’s a lot of optimism going on right now.”

Matt Hammond, senior vice president and partner at Orange County-based Coreland Cos., said retail leasing activity began to pick up at the beginning of the year.

“It stems from all of the positive news that we’re seeing — the vaccines, schools reopening, and other things opening up down the road,” Hammond said. “A lot of retailers are signing deals now because they have a six to 12-month window. They are not opening immediately. In their minds, they are looking at where the market is going to be six to 12 months from now.”

Where’s the market going to be later this year?

“It’s going to be open,” Hammond said.

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