Small Businesses big problems, Zen Mystery Café, like many restaurants, is still struggling in the post-pandemic

Orange Postman Dispatch


Small Businesses big problems, Zen Mystery Café, like many restaurants, is still struggling in the post-pandemic

UPDATED November 2, 2021 12:30 PM
Soukhanov, the owner of Zen Mystery Café shown with vegan dish.

Dania Beach, Fla. – Nov. 2, 2021- Denis Soukhanov, owner and proprietor of Zen Mystery Café, is one of many small businesses whose main objective is returning back to the financial fertile ground of the pre-pandemic. Since the April 2020 lockdown in Florida due to the Covid-19 outbreak, small businesses are still in a challenging position to make profits.
Soukhanov received a small grant from Broward County late last year. He also received money from U.S. Small Business Administration as part of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), which will sustain his café’s finances for the next couple of years. The American Rescue Plan’s economic relief provided help to struggling business owners signed into law by President Joe Biden, to more than 16,000 approved applicants.” But Soukhanov, who has been in business for eight years said, “they did not allocate enough money for everybody.”

He believes, barring another Covid-19 variant that could place more restrictions on capacity in small cafés like Zen Mystery, that the government’s assistance plan will keep him stable for a couple of years. Yet his forecast for the small businesses is not optimistic: “I think maybe a third of the industry’s gone forever…and the surviving places need help.” A report in April of this year aligns with his assessment: “Individual companies account for about two-thirds—or roughly 130,000—of the extra closures if historical patterns hold, according to the Fed economists, who examined businesses with employees.”

To recoup those financial losses from a year and a half ago, many small businesses must set their prices higher.  Yet these local establishments are still short-handed in their staffing. Soukhanov is the busiest employee at his restaurant, because he is the only employee. His café, a tea house that offers organic vegan food with a cultural event space, is still experiencing problems with finances and staffing since many of the pandemic restrictions were lifted. He once had a staff of five including a cleaner who he tried to financially help with rent money. This cleaner, like many unemployed renters last year, did not have the funds to continue to lease.

Zen Mystery Café’s Organic Lounge/ Café

Soukhanov is your typical small business owner who strives to give patrons and customers the best service in a welcoming environment. There were times when the number of occupants and mask mandate made him a restaurant referee with some customers, but he holds holistic views: “we are a place that doesn’t discriminate. It’s a place where we are open to everybody as long as you are respectful to our environment.” This inclusive place to enjoy tea or wine with casual conversation, homemade vegan meals and desserts; and nightly entertainment three days a week survived the Covid-19 summer restrictions of 2020. The price to pay then and now as we enter the autumn season is still costly into the post-pandemic. Zen Mystery encourages patrons to visit the café to provide a personal investment, deemed greater than the government assistance.

Chris Joseph Stancato


Chris Joseph Stancato


Dania Beach, Fla. – Oct. 27, 2021—Denis Soukhanov, owner and proprietor of Zen Mystery Café, is still recouping his losses since the April 2020 lockdown due to the Covid-19 outbreak. A year and a half later, Zen Mystery Café is now back with their nightly events, and full menu of organic food.
Soukhanov overcame challenges by reinventing his café for take-out service, opening without a staff in a limited capacity, and working to position his café back to the pre-pandemic. Zen Mystery Café is a cultural center for entertainment like their Friday night open mic event, and performances by musicians and comedians.

About Zen Mystery Café

Zen Mystery is an organic lounge-café and cultural center located in the heart of Dania Beach, Fla, offering cultural events and classes, organic food, crystals, and spiritual literature to the South Florida community and anyone starting their health journey. Zen Mystery was founded in 2013 by Lina Gonzalez and Denis Soukhanov to help friends and family on their health journey offering private consulting services. Zen Mystery’s location is a safe and harmonious environment for gentle souls looking for a peaceful retreat. Zen Mystery’s doors opened in April 2013 in Dania Beach, Fla. just a few blocks south of the Fort Lauderdale International Airport, surrounded by some of the most interesting antique shops in Broward County.


56 N Federal Hwy, Dania Beach, FL 33004