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Coliseum Loft Deli and Market owner fights to survive during pandemic: 'We're gonna lose our house, our car'

Posted at 11:51 PM, Dec 14, 2020

RICHMOND, Va. -- The financial impact of COVID-19 has hit the restaurant community hard.

The owner of Coliseum Loft Deli and Market said he is fighting for his business to survive.

Abbas Jahangiri has been serving the Richmond community for 18 years.

"I love to make people happy," said Jahangiri.

Abbas Jahangiri.jpg
Abbas Jahangiri

But his tables have been empty for much of 2020.

Eighty percent of his customers are VCU students.

Coronavirus has kept many of them off-campus and learning online.

Abbas is missing their presence.

"We don't have that much business. It's operating at 20 percent business, compared to the previous year,” he said.

COVID-19 hasn't been the only challenge.

The 72-year-old suffered another setback in the spring during unrest in the city.

The front window of the restaurant was smashed, and Abbas had to place a special order, then closed his business for nearly two months as he waited for the new window to arrive.

It has been a costly year.

"I've tightened my belt so much, to the point, you know I feel my bone, that's how it is," said Abbas. "I'd hate to close my doors after so many years."

Amid his obstacles, Abbas is thinking about others.

During the interview, he teared up and said his heart is with the doctors and nurses who have not had a break since the pandemic began.

“I pray for the nurses. I pray for the doctors and I pray for all the customers who come in here,” said Abbas.

Abbas said he's thankful for a grant he received from the City of Richmond and another from the Metropolitan Business League.

"It did help, but that help is just a drop in the bucket. We're gonna lose our house, we are going to lose our car because this is the bread and butter for us," he said.

Abbas is staying optimistic. He hopes that things turn around soon.

"I hope to God by springtime we are all going to be okay. I'd love to take the opportunity right now and ask the people to please come to the restaurant," he said.

He has no plans to give up.

“We have to survive. We have to fight to survive,” said Abbas.

If you own a business that is facing hardships due to COVID-19, the Metropolitan Business League is expected to offer a second round of grant dollars in January.

You can also apply for the Richmond Recovers II grant by visiting here.

Virginia Together: The Rebound Richmond campaign is here to help. Find information on who is hiring, investigations into unemployment payment issues, financial advice on making ends meet, and mental health advice on managing the pressures. These stories will be featured often on CBS 6 News and can be found by clicking this link.