Photography by Julia Newman.

How it started:

Chrissy Kuo had weeks of catering jobs lined up for her small, seasonal business, Snowbaby, when Dallas County implemented its shelter-in-place order. County rules also barred her from serving Snowbaby’s delectable shave-ice creations in the storefront on Gaston Avenue. Her husband, Alex, was out of work too when his international business trips were canceled because of travel restrictions. Their kids were initially thrilled when Dallas ISD extended spring break, but their excitement waned when they realized they’d be learning virtually for the rest of the semester. “We helped them get started,” Kuo says, “but reality set in, and we couldn’t just sit next to them to make sure they’re paying attention.” Kuo got a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, but it wasn’t enough to cover rent at the Lakewood Shopping Center. “It’s been devastating for small businesses,” she says.

How it’s going:

Restaurants reopened at limited capacity in May, but foot traffic at the Lakewood Shopping Center remains low, especially with the loss of Penne Pomodoro and Kozy Kitchen. Like many other businesses, Kuo tried a takeout and delivery model, but it wasn’t enough. She found a used snow cone trailer on Facebook and took her shop mobile. From the Snowbaby mobile, customers can order the most popular seasonal flavors, toppings and drizzles. She was briefly unable to work when she tested positive for a mild case of the virus. Her husband and kids never got it. Her kids are back in school at Lakewood Elementary with a mix of in-person and online learning. “School is more than just school,” Kuo says. “It’s social and handling situations with people. That’s what you don’t have with online learning.”

On the bright side:

“We get to spend more time together as a family,” Kuo says. “We’ve learned to be patient and go outside more. We’re able to adjust and be flexible.”

The future:

“My hope for this year is that we all understand that [COVID] is out there, practice regular sanitation guidelines, but live your life,” Kuo says.


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