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Restaurants reflect on pandemic's past 18 months, fighting through adversity

With this week highlighting small businesses, many establishments around Des Moines are making it through the past 18 months with the help of the community.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Small Business Week kicked off Monday, and many business owners across Des Moines are making it through the pandemic with the help of their community.

Several federal and state programs helped many small businesses survive the turmoil of the past 18 months, but customers coming through the front door is the main way to help them thrive.

Blanca Plascencia, owner of El Fogon in West Des Moines, says the support of the community early on was overwhelming.

"People were coming and giving us $100 dollar or $50 dollar tips, and that was super amazing. Some people will send us postcards," she said. "And they're saying 'We're here for you, we'll support you, even if we cannot go out. But we will go back.' And, you know, showing that kind of support makes me emotional."

"It's an ability to stay connected with a whole bunch of different groups, have a local impact as well as make good food and be around every day," said Alec Davis, owner of Dough Co. Pizza in Des Moines.

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Plascencia centers her drive around running her business around the American Dream.

"I'm an immigrant from Mexico. And I live the two sides of the American dream," she told Local 5. "So one side is the one that you're always working from sunup to sundown. And I never had time for my family for my kids."

Davis added that even though the past year and a half has been grueling, it's been a learning experience as well.

"I wouldn't want to do the past 18 months again, but I think we'll come out in a way that makes us feel good about the future," he said.

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