Rosaivette Baez opened her restaurant, Bella Isla Cafe, two months before pandemic shutdowns began. By March of 2020, she had five employees and a bank loan to repay, and federal government aid was inaccessible.
Would her restaurant, named for the beauty of Puerto Rico and created to honor her mother’s love of cooking, be able to survive?
Half a block up Washington Avenue, the Rev. Edgar A. Gutiérrez-Duarte was facing his own crisis. For 13 years, St. Luke’s-San Lucas Episcopal Church had hosted a weekly meal every Saturday, where families in need could come eat something warm and comforting. But with the pandemic hitting Chelsea particularly hard, it was no longer safe to gather that many people into one room.