L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti met with small business owners on Wednesday during a tour of Little Tokyo.
“We are excited to be here. These businesses literally are the anchors of Little Tokyo and together they are the beating heart of our small businesses and small business community,” Garcetti said, in comments that were broadcast on Facebook Live.
The mayor met with business owners, including Don Tahara of Far Bar, Brian Kito of Fugetsu-Do, Susan Oiwake of Honda Plaza, Irene Tsukada-Simonian of Bunkado, Tomoya Yano, manager of Suehiro, and Takaaki Kohyama, owner of Daikokuya and Hachioji.
“I thought he was very responsive, very interested in hearing from the community of what our priorities were. I really appreciated that,” Tsukada-Simonian said. “He was very engaged and excited to mention a new program by the city of $2,500 microgrants for 2,500 small businesses.”
Garcetti touted the success of L.A. Al Fresco, an L.A. Department of Transportation initiative that allows eligible restaurants and bars impacted by the pandemic to apply to expand dining areas into the street, sidewalk and private lots. He was joined on the tour by Seleta Reynolds, general manager of LADOT.
Part of First Street North has been closed since last September and turned into outdoor open-air dining. Garcetti said making these changes permanent and continuing eviction moratoriums are some of the responses the city is considering.
“Small businesses are facing unprecedented challenges and we want to be there to help them,” Garcetti said.
The mayor urged business owners to take advantage of resources provided to aid small business and asked residents to shop local and patronize small businesses. He even broke out a little Japanese.
“I can only say, ‘Watashi wa gaijin desu,” he said with a laugh.