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For British cafe owners, pandemic threatens more than just their business

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Posted at 9:27 PM, Jul 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-16 23:30:56-04

BRADENTON, Fla. -- With his life in America on the line, a Bradenton business owner is determined to survive the pandemic's financial fallout.

Revenue at Katie's Cafe, located at 3130 53rd Avenue East, has taken a hit in recent months, down about 70% since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

It's a business Rick Jessop and his family not only spent their life savings on, but emigrated from their native England to pursue.

"I know that the American dream does sound like a cliche, but there are some of us that still believe in it and that’s all we want," said Jessop. "We want to come out here, we want to make success, and we want to stay."

Jessop and his family are living and working in the United States with an E-2 visa.

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It requires holders to make a significant investment in the country, which for Jessop was buying Katie's Cafe.

"The only downside to that is if the business fails, you’re going home," said Jessop. "We understand it's one of the risks that any E-2 visa holder takes on board when they come here, but no one plans for a pandemic."

An E-2 status is not a pathway to citizenship, Jessop said. He must operate his business while employing a certain number of American workers.

Jessop fears if the pandemic's financial strain slips into the fall, Katie's Cafe will be in jeopardy.

He's relying on the close connections they've built over the past seven years.

"We’re a real heart of the community," said Jessop. "We don’t have customers, we have friends."