California bar owner pulls thousands of dollars off wall to split with employees as coronavirus hurts business

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One California restauranteur made the decision to pull down thousands of dollar bills collected over decades on the walls so she could help her staff during the coronavirus outbreak, which has had a devastating effect on the local economy.

Sherri Newman, who co-owns Jake's Saloon -- a century-old hangout spot, said she is feeling the effects of not being able to operate her business.

“But here’s the good part of my story,” she told the Los Angeles Times Thursday. “I remembered the thousands of one-dollar bills that customers have stapled to the walls over the decades.”

She and a few friends were reportedly able to collect enough money from her restaurant’s walls to pay her staff $500 each. Their goal is to stay afloat through the summer, she told the LA Times.

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Her restaurant is located in Inyo County, a small community outside the Sierra Nevada in central California, and due to the coronavirus pandemic, it has suffered from a lack of tourism.

The county that more than 17,000 people call home has seen great success with containing the spread of the coronavirus, with only 19 cases and one death. But the county also relies on tourism to support small businesses, and with COVID-19-related shutdowns, businesses are hurting.

The rural area is host to many tourist destinations such as Mount Whitney, which is partially located in Inyo National Forest and sits right next to Sequoia National Park.

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Death Valley, the Ancient Bristlecone Forest and the Manzanar National historic site, which marks the place where Japanese-Americans were forcibly interned during World War II, are all tourist destinations located in Inyo County that have been inaccessible during the pandemic.

“Food, medicine and guns, for example, are classified as essential,” County Supervisor Dan Totheroh said. “So, if you have any of those things in your store, you can remain open.”

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“We should be diversifying because the tourism-based economy is not as stable as we had come to believe over the decades,” Inyo County Supervisor Matt Kingsley told the LA Times.