Last month’s Best New Restaurants issue went to press eight days before all restaurants were forced into only takeout service. Normally, I’m hesitant to share behind-the-scenes work tales (boring). But putting together this May issue presented a challenge. In mid-March, we realized we needed to scrap everything and tell a different story—in less than half the time it usually takes. It was a monumental shift, but in many ways, it was exactly what my psyche needed. I hope focusing on the positives, particularly in a tremendously difficult time, will be a good respite for you, too.
During the first month of closures to slow the spread of novel coronavirus, people around our county were so thoughtful. Folks passing on trails at Back Bay smiled at one another and warmly said good day. Strangers in line at grocery stores made jokes and shared insights. Small-business owners shifted gears to help the community and one another, and they shared their appreciation with every customer. A sense of community spirit surged: Sudden food pantries for neighbors replaced little free libraries; inspirational art appeared in windows and on sidewalks (see Page 96); neighbors checked on one another and organized new ways to gather; and parents shared tips for distance learning. We realized more than ever how much we depend on our health care workers, teachers, emergency-services personnel, grocery employees, and food-service people to be absolute heroes.
There were many folks out walking, on trails or through neighborhoods. I heard snippets of conversations, including this one from a woman to her friend that I had to applaud: “I’m not wearing my Apple watch. I’m letting go of the chain!” There was extra time for families, and the little ones seemed to relish it the most, pointing out blooming flowers and smelling coastal sage. Locals displayed patience and gratitude. Who can’t use a heavy dose of that when the news is so grim?
We have no idea what next month will look like—or even next week. We’ve seen resolve and optimism in big ways and small. We share it with you starting on Page 60. This month’s cover story is about who we are more than any we’ve done before. It’s what we strive for every month at Orange Coast. I’m astonished and uplifted by these stories, and I couldn’t be prouder to call this county home.
Ms. Alan Gibbons