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How a Small California Bar Battled to Survive the Coronavirus

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This episode contains strong language.

Jack Nicas, a technology reporter for The New York Times, moved to Oakland, Calif., five years ago. When he arrived, he set out to find a bar of choice. It quickly became the Hatch.

Unpretentious, cheap and relaxed, the Hatch was a successful small business until the coronavirus hit.

ImageOutside the Hatch in Oakland, Calif., in March. The bar tried to keep business moving by offering a takeout service.
Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

After the announcement in March that California would order bars and restaurants to shut down, Jack decided to follow the fortunes of the Hatch. Over six months, he charted the struggle to keep the tavern afloat and the hardship suffered by its staff.

“I can’t afford to be down in the dumps about it,” Louwenda Kachingwe, the Hatch’s owner, told Jack as he struggled to come up with ideas to keep the bar running during the shutdown. “I have to be proactive, because literally people are depending on it.”

Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

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Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Jack Nicas contributed reporting.

“The Daily” is made by Theo Balcomb, Andy Mills, Lisa Tobin, Rachel Quester, Lynsea Garrison, Annie Brown, Clare Toeniskoetter, Paige Cowett, Michael Simon Johnson, Brad Fisher, Larissa Anderson, Wendy Dorr, Chris Wood, Jessica Cheung, Stella Tan, Alexandra Leigh Young, Lisa Chow, Eric Krupke, Marc Georges, Luke Vander Ploeg, Kelly Prime, Julia Longoria, Sindhu Gnanasambandan, M.J. Davis Lin, Austin Mitchell, Neena Pathak, Dan Powell, Dave Shaw, Sydney Harper, Daniel Guillemette, Hans Buetow, Robert Jimison, Mike Benoist, Bianca Giaever, Liz O. Baylen, Asthaa Chaturvedi and Rachelle Bonja. Our theme music is by Jim Brunberg and Ben Landsverk of Wonderly. Special thanks to Sam Dolnick, Mikayla Bouchard, Lauren Jackson, Julia Simon, Mahima Chablani, Nora Keller, Sofia Milan and Desiree Ibekwe.

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