In the United States, small businesses account for half of all jobs, including the handful created last year by Hatib Joof. In January 2019, Joof, a Gambian immigrant, tapped his modest bank account to pursue his dream of opening an African restaurant. He hired a couple of waiters, a dishwasher, some cooks, and opened Mansa Kunda in Takoma Park, Maryland, an airy space where diners loved to linger. On a typical Friday night, patrons clustered at the bar, seated on chairs fashioned from djembe drums. Others chatted amiably at the spacious tables of burnished wood, savoring grilled fish, goat meat, and variety of Gambian specialties seasoned with tamarind and lime.
But that was before the coronavirus pandemic. These days, his restaurant, like so many others, has had to pivot to a carry-out-and-delivery model because of public health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. Joof’s restaurant now only brings in a small fraction of what it did before the outbreak.
The above excerpt was originally published in Washington Monthly.
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