Revitalizing Small Businesses in Hayward


Alana Sese

Buffalo Bill’s Brewery, a popular eatery on B Street in Hayward on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023


The small businesses of downtown Hayward are slowly coming back to life two years after COVID-19 restrictions devastated the local economy. Their reemergence is largely due to local government assistance programs and community support. 


Over 450 local businesses closed down by the end of 2021, according to the city of Hayward’s official website. The most devastating loss is Buffalo Bill’s Brewery, a brewpub established in 1983, which shut down on June 22, 2022. 


“I am honored to have met so many wonderful people, and especially honored to have known and worked with the 2,400 employees who came through the doors of Buffalo Bill’s like I did and shared their passion for serving our community,” wrote owner Geoff Harries on the brewery’s official Facebook page. 


The remaining small businesses have adapted to significant shifts in consumer spending habits in order to survive. “We’re doing curbside pickup … we launched a whole website so that people could order online without coming in,” shared Matthew Schaaphok from Music Depot on B Street.


Hayward officials implemented several programs in order to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic. 


“The City of Hayward’s Economic Development team actually has the most aggressive American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) project plan in the entire Bay Area,” said Daniel Mao, an economic development specialist for the city. 


Hayward’s plan—which was created from the responses to a survey sent to over 6,000 business owners—focuses on marketing and encourages local consumers back to in-person shopping, including initiatives such as a video series highlighting various local businesses and a gift card program. 


“I’ve been talking with the mayor, trying to get new businesses to draw people,” said Alfredo Rodriguez, who runs a vintage boutique and salon called Vintage Alley on the B Street corridor. Rodriguez attributes the hesitancy for many businesses to open to the lack of foot traffic. 


Rodriguez’s efforts to draw consumers back into local businesses include organizing events such as the Heart of the Bay Marketplace at the Hayward Veterans Memorial Building, an indoor shopping experience which features local vendors and will take place on March 26 and Nov. 12 of this year. 


The relationship between local businesses has become vital for their continued survival. 


“If we can’t take somebody, we’ll send them to another barber shop [in Hayward]. At least it stays in the area,” explained Pedro Howard, a barber at Antonio’s Old Fashioned Barber Shop. Rodriguez concluded, “As long as people do what they can for their business and their communities, things will be okay.”


For local businesses to thrive in a post-pandemic economy, they will have to rely on the support of their community now more than ever. CSUEB students — and the university — can do their part by patronizing local businesses and becoming a part of the revitalization efforts of the city of Hayward.