Richie Chor, a small business owner of Lily Popp Café in Anaheim Hills, CA, discusses the ups and downs of opening a business during a pandemic and how he finally got his dream business approved.
Lily Popp Café is the first of many businesses of expansion in the near future.
Q: What made you decide to finally open your own business? Do you have any previous business experience?
A: My dream actually was to be a sports therapist for a professional team, but one day, I realized school wasn’t for me and I did not want to sit behind a desk all day doing something I was losing love for. Since I was around 12 years old, I have worked with my parents at their donut shop in Corona, CA. Having worked with them really gave me a great idea of business expectations and what is needed to make a business successful.
Q: What product do you sell?
A: We are for the people, we mostly have surrounded our business product around bagels, muffins, and coffee. This will expand as time goes on in which we already have ideas in the works.
Q: How did you decide on the name Lily Popp Cafe?
A: I named this business after my mom and the co-owners last name, my moms maiden name being Lily and my co-owner last name being Popp, with our overall goal of wanting to create this business as a community café.
Q: What are your interests within the business and what do you want to accomplish?
A: My biggest interest is making the people of Anaheim Hills happy. Once I do that and expand, my business is not only going to just grow more, there will also be a place where communities can be brought together. I want to be able to grow my business within the community. I want to reach out to as many people, collaborate with other businesses and sponsor school events. That is a huge goal of mine.
Q: What would you say your biggest challenge of opening your business during this pandemic was?
A: My biggest challenge was how frustrating was how long it took to get okay from the health inspector to take the next steps for opening the store. We were delayed around three months because the city health inspector was blowing us off each day. We called every single day for a month straight because we wanted this next step to be taken, but it got to a point to where it felt like the city was making nothing but excuses and not wanting to send anyone out to us. It was frustrating, but everything since then has run smoothly even with the CDC guidelines of what rules my business must follow with this whole pandemic situation.
Q: How many people does your business employ as well as what is their wage?
A: Currently I have a total of seven people employed but will be hiring much more soon. Those on my payroll are set at minimum wage of $14 an hour to start off.
Q: Do you have a reduced capacity due to COVID-19?
A: Right now, state law always allows us to only let a certain amount of people in. We have outdoor seating if customers do want to enjoy their food there. As for the inside, there is no dining, and we use stickers for customers to follow social distancing. They can only enter and exit in certain doors until we have the full go on opening our store fully inside.
Q: What motivated you to stay with your dream and not give up even with all these delays and hard conditions you have to work around?
A: Mindset to me was the biggest importance. It was mentally draining to work around with all these delays and conditions I can’t control. One day it will be worth it once the country reopens.
Q: What do you see your business doing in the future? Will you be expanding or staying with 1 location in Anaheim hills?
A: What I see my business doing is expanding within the community, as well as growing with other businesses in the community around. Whether that’s partnering or sponsoring teams or schools, I’m all for it. Growth is most important for my business. My main goal is to expand throughout the cities here in California and maybe even in other states. I want to open several locations, especially one in my hometown Riverside, CA. Over time, I will find locations and plant my businesses all around California.