City Times

THE HIGHLAND AVENUE PROJECT

A team of student journalists from San Diego City College spent the spring 2021 semester reporting on the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on National City’s smallest Latinx-owned businesses as part of the Democracy and the Informed Citizen Emerging Journalist Fellowship program. The fellows selected were Katia Pechenkina, Vicky Pineda, Gabriel Schneider and Susana Serrano. To learn more, click here.

Heriberto Gerardo Gutierrez

National City entrepreneurs struggle to keep business afloat during COVID-19 pandemic (with podcast)

A combination of high COVID-19 cases, surging unemployment hinders Highland Avenue’s smallest businesses
The second oldest city in San Diego County has been hit disproportionately hard by a distressing combination of soaring COVID-19 infection rates and surging unemployment throughout the pandemic.
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Erwin Mejia, owner of La Rumba Barbershop

Barbershop owner continues his business on his own

La Rumba was forced to shut down two separate times due to COVID-19 restrictions
Susana Serrano, Multimedia Journalist June 23, 2021
Inside the barbershop, bachata music was blasting and the blue walls were decorated with Dominican Republic memorabilia and posters with the most popular fades, tapers and buzz cuts.
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Rodeo's Meat Market and Catering

National City market uses social media, delivery services to survive the pandemic

Family business improvises to keep its catering income coming in
Katia Pechenkina, Multimedia Journalist June 23, 2021
Rodeo’s Meat Market and Catering stands out on Highland Avenue between an empty parking lot and a smog center. The business originally focused specifically on catering tacos and other Mexican cuisine.
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Birria's, Chivos & Cheves

Restaurant owner taps his network for help to survive pandemic

Owner of Birrias, Chivos & Cheves struggled to keep the doors open
Susana Serrano, Multimedia Journalist June 23, 2021
In a small shopping center where Highland Avenue connects with 24th street in National City, a Mexican restaurant called Birrias, Chivos & Cheves stands between a pizzeria and a nail salon.
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Ana Rozo, the owner of Family Decals

Family-owned advertising and marketing business finds ways to survive during the pandemic

Family Decals in National City transitioned to its garage to continue filling customer orders
Gabriel Schneider, Multimedia Journalist June 23, 2021
Family Decals is located in National City inside a Price Breakers outlet located where Highland Avenue and Plaza Boulevard meet.
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Tortilleria El Grano de Oro

Tortilleria struggles to keep up with declining sales during COVID-19 pandemic

Owner of El Grano de Oro tried to apply for government grants but was unsuccessful
Susana Serrano, Multimedia Journalist June 23, 2021
The smell of freshly made corn tortillas was in the air of Tortilleria El Grano de Oro, a family-owned business on Seventh Street and Highland Avenue that has been open for 33 years.
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Dream Crystal Gifts

National City entrepreneur balances two different businesses during the pandemic

The owner of a flower shop and novelty gift store gets creative to keep customers coming back
Gabriel Schneider, Multimedia Journalist June 23, 2021
In a corner lot on Highland Avenue and E 16th Street sits a circular-shaped flower store called Angel Petals, which shares a parking lot with Dream Crystals Gifts that sells many eclectic merchandise.
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HIGHLAND AVENUE

GALLERY: A tour of Highland Avenue’s small businesses

The street is home to small, locally-owned restaurants, barbershops and markets
Vicky Pineda, Multimedia Journalist June 23, 2021
Highland Avenue was once known for lowrider car cruising. Now it is National City’s downtown, a strip where small businesses reside.
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Gabriel Schneider and Susana Serrano interview Family Decals' Ana Rozo

About The Highland Avenue Project

The multimedia project takes in-depth look at pandemic’s impact on National City’s family-owned small businesses
The coronavirus pandemic hit underserved communities in the United States the hardest and Latinx entrepreneurs had to adapt to new challenges to keep their businesses open. 
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THE HIGHLAND AVENUE PROJECT