Soupergirl co-owner Sara Polon is petrified about the idea of reopening her Takoma Park vegan soup shop to the public. “I do not feel safe. I do not feel like I can keep my team safe with people coming into my establishment,” she says.
So when the US Chamber of Commerce asked her to record a video question for a Fox News town hall with President Donald Trump yesterday evening, Polon wanted to know: What federal testing protocols would be in place to ensure that employees and patrons feel safe, especially if people are coming from different states with differing standards?
“I did not think they were going to put mine on, hence me looking like a trucker, which was one of the first things my mother said,” Polon says.
— Soupergirl (@thesoupergirl) May 4, 2020
But then there she was on national TV, with the President’s ear in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial. Trump, however, didn’t answer Polon’s question about testing. Instead, he started talking about states reopening: “Look, it depends on where you’re coming from. New York is a very much different place than Montana or many other states really where it’s not really too bad. It’s always bad, if they lose anybody it’s bad, and every state has lost significant numbers of people. Whether you’re talking about 20 people or 25 people, that’s a significant number of people. But it depends on where you come from. Certain states are going to take a little bit more time in getting open, and they’re doing that. Some states frankly aren’t going fast enough.”
Needless to say, Polon doesn’t feel any better about reopening after hearing from the President.
“I would have loved to hear that there is some sort of move toward federal guidelines around nationwide testing standards for both Covid-19 and antibodies,” Polon says. “This is DC. If the country starts opening and tourists start coming, I have no idea who’s coming into my shop.”
Polon and her mother Marilyn Polon started Soupergirl in 2009 as a soup delivery business. In the years since, they’ve opened storefronts in Takoma Park and Dupont Circle, and built a wholesale operation, selling to stores like Whole Foods. Since the pandemic hit, they’ve mostly returned to their delivery roots. Sales to fast-casual concepts disappeared overnight. Meanwhile, supermarket business has been wildly inconsistent.
Polon has already made the decision to permanently close the Dupont location. “I do not see the business community returning downtown anytime soon, and I can’t afford that,” she says. As for the Takoma Park location, she’s not sure when they’ll feel comfortable opening it for dine-in service again.
“We’re settling into delivery for a long while,” Polon says. “That’s all I’m comfortable doing right now, and I don’t see that changing.”