Kyle Ferro, Ed St. George and Jay Ferro
Flanked by Kyle’s Kitchen owner Jay Ferro, right, and his son, Kyle, Santa Barbara developer Ed St. George has pledged to purchase $250 worth of meals a day from the restaurant during the coronavirus crisis. The Ferros hope to start a program that connects local companies with restaurants to help then stay alive during the COVID-19 quarantines. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Jay Ferro makes a living running restaurants. He’s the owner of the Kyle’s Kitchen in Goleta and Santa Barbara and Silvergreens in Isla Vista.

He’s also the father of Kyle, a special needs 16-year-old whose face is on the Kyle’s Kitchen logo. Each month, he partners with a local special needs organization to donate a portion of the restaurants’ revenues. Charity is part of his brand.

But the COVID-19 crisis that has ravaged the nation is threatening the restaurant company’s future. Already, he’s closed Silvergreens, and a few days ago he laid off 65 employees. He hopes to hire them back, but with all the government orders for people to “shelter at home,” the future is unclear.

Ferro’s restaurants are among hundreds in Santa Barbara County fighting for their economic lives. While people stand in long lines to enter stores such as Trader Joe’s and Costco, whose shelves have been emptied by hoarders, many locally owned restaurants are praying for customers, and barely surviving day-to-day, offering take-out or delivery-only food.

“Our sales dropped over 50 percent,” Ferro told Noozhawk. “We’re all trying to stick together right now. Restaurants have been part of our everyday lifestyle for so long.”

But he is not giving up on his restaurant or the many others in the community. His longtime friend, developer Ed St. George, has agreed to help out the restaurant and, for the time being, will be buying $250 worth of food daily for his employees and tenants.

St. George and Ferro hope that other companies that have not been hit as hard by the coronavirus pandemic will find a restaurant in the community to support.

“Here is a family that has consistently given back hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless hours to our community, and we can’t just turn our backs on them during times like these,” St. George said.

“We need to pull together now more than ever and support our local businesses. … It’s amazing how many people a restaurant really supports.”

Ferro has partnered with Jeremy Peterson, who owns Soulutions Consulting, to help connect companies to restaurants, and hope to involve the South Coast’s large tech community in the effort. Peterson volunteered to be the go-between.

“Every company wants to be doing more with their social responsibility and a lot of companies don’t know how to help,” said Peterson, who started out as a driver for Silvergreens when it would cater to local schools.

At Kyle’s Kitchen, remaining employees have developed a greater appreciation of their jobs. And they all pitch in to help each other.

“We don’t even have a dishwashing shift,” Ferro said. “Everyone is going to have to learn and take turns dishwashing.”

St. George and Ferro have been friends for more than 20 years. St. George wanted to help Ferro’s company because he’s touched by the charity work that Ferro does.

“If we are ever going to support our community, now is the time to buy Santa Barbara,” he said.

Ferro said restaurants can help feed people during this difficult time.

“We’re really just trying to do this on behalf of the local restaurants,” he said. “They are all suffering right now and any way to keep them open during this time is extremely beneficial to all of us.”

Contact Peterson at for more information.

Click here for Noozhawk’s Open for Business section, a real-time directory of Santa Barbara County restaurant services and options during the coronavirus crisis.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.