BAKERSFIELD, CA - The heat is on in Kern County. And, if the thought of triple digit temperatures makes you uncomfortable, local business owners are sweating too. That's because when the mercury rises, many owners see a sales slump.
The main reason is heat. If there's a chance to escape the hot weather, many do, and they take their business with them.
It's lunch time at Cafe Crepes in downtown Bakersfield. Like their pastries, light and thin, so is summertime business.
"We actually are pretty packed during the winter. We're really, really packed with the coffees. People want to eat here. Like it's too cold outside so they want to be inside," said Rachelle Macias at Café Crepes.
But, business in the summertime?
"Yeah, not so much here," answered Macias.
It's a seasonal trend the restaurant has learned from in its four years in Bakersfield. They cut food inventory in half during the hot months.
"We have to adjust and make sure we don't order too much because you don't want everything to go bad. And, we want everything to be fresh so we have to order at the right time," said Macias.
Terry Maxwell, Bakersfield City Councilman and owner of T.L. Maxwell's Bar and Restaurant, believes his summers suffer, partly from people looking for heat relief.
"People just don't spend money in the summer like they do other times of the year," said Maxwell. "I would love somebody to do a study to find out what percentage of Bakersfield leaves town every single weekend because it's hot here."
"I always go to Disneyland, go to the beach there or Santa Monica," said Bianca Padilla.
"Bakersfield owns Pismo, you know. That's the other Bakersfield," said Don Blanco.
Maxwell says while his seats are filled on weekends in the cooler months, summer Saturdays and Sundays are mostly silent. Adding insult to injury, Maxwell's electric bills go up over 50 percent in the hot weather. And, some cut dining out altogether, saving for a summer vacation.
"There's always the summers that scare you," said Maxwell.
But, Maxwell and others have managed to ride out the heat wave for years, protecting local businesses from a total meltdown.
"You just have to be smarter than your average bear in order to make it through the summers and not have to sweat it," said Maxwell.
Maxwell adds he also cut costs by closing early if the restaurant isn't busy. But, he hopes more people are encouraged to help out local businesses in the summer.