By Devin Fehely

SAN JOSE (KPIX) — Many Bay Area business owners say they are limping in the New Year but are determined to fight to make it through the pandemic and public health orders.

“Moving forward, we do so with a sense of guarded and cautious optimism,” said Dan Holder, owner of Jack Holder’s restaurant in San Jose.

Holder says his business has struggled to survive ever-changing public health orders, vacillating between takeout, outdoor and limited indoor dining during the summer and fall.

“We were asked to prepare ourselves for outdoor dining. We did. We spared no expense. We all invested quite a bit of money and the goal posts were continually being moved,” says Holder.

Holder gave voice to the frustration of many business owners who have not been able to operate their businesses in traditional ways — if at all — during the pandemic.

“A small business owner will tell you we have to be optimistic by nature. Otherwise, we would have never gone into business, right?” says Mike Flynn, owner of Engenious Learning Centers, a tutoring chain with six locations.

The past several months, Flynn says, have put enormous strain on his business. His tutors have not been allowed to meet in-person with students and, as a consequence, revenue is down.

“All of our reserves have been eaten into so, now, we’re really having to be exceptionally creative and hoping for the best,” Flynn said.

Business owners say there is hope on the horizon. They point to the rollout of a vaccine as proof that we may be finally nearing the end of the pandemic. But a return to business as usual is still several months away and they know they’ll have to fight to get there.

“I don’t see things really turning around until the vaccine really helps the numbers plummet and then people will really start to gain their confidence back,” said Dave Diggs, owner of The Barbers Inc.