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State's stay-at-home order affecting local restaurants

Posted at 6:56 PM, Dec 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-06 03:01:30-05

Restaurant owners and managers say one of the biggest losses for them is how much they have invested into outdoor operations and with shutdowns on the horizon yet again, business owners are looking to find solutions for their customers and employees.

Spirit of San Luis owner Ellen Stanton says news of the shutdown has been frustrating.

"We have done everything that is asked of us to accommodate safe dining, and making sure everyone is distances and services are clean," Stanton said.

With little time to prepare, staff are also feeling the gravity of the state's decision.

“We are devastated - this couldn’t come at a worse time of the year with the holiday season [underway], but we are resilient. We went through it in March and April and we adapted," said Spirit of San Luis Head Chef, Bernard Livingston.

San Luis Obispo has been grouped into the Southern California region by the state, and as a result, will have to adhere to the same standards as cities like Los Angeles and those in Orange County.

Spirit of San Luis customer and Arroyo Grande resident, Jim Vangelos says he feels the order is unfair for the county.

"I believe most people understand the rules and regulations and adhere to them for the most part and I think it is going to hurt a lot of our local businesses," Vangelos said.

Some recognize the dire situation the state is in with cases, but are also concerned about the long term effects of stay at home closures.

"I realize there is a problem, and it is a real problem, but I don't think we have the same exposure as the southern counties..I think it's a little far sighted," said SLO County resident Rick Young.

The San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce along with their partners have started a petition online to ask Governor Gavin Newsom's office for an exemption from the regional stay at home order.

“Everybody has obligations to pay rent, make sure the utilities stay on, Christmas is coming up [and some business owners] have children; there is a lot on the plate here. We’re all on thin ice and it’s a terrible spot to be in," said Stanton.

The Spirit of San Luis will continue doing take out, but like many other local businesses, Stanton says they will have to re-consider and adjust business plans in the coming weeks.

Aaron Bergh, owner of Calwise Spirits Co. in Paso Robles, is also speaking out against the stay-at-home order saying the new restrictions are unnecessary based on the ICU capacity in San Luis Obispo County.

As of Friday, there is only one COVID-19 patient in the ICU.

“This latest shutdown not only erodes the viability of local business owners, it affects the economic, medical and educational welfare of our employees and their households,” Bergh said. “I think that we can be deeply concerned about Covid while still questioning our decision makers, because knee-jerk policies have the potential to do serious long-term damage.”

Bergh said in a press release that this will be the fourth time he has had to shutdown significant portions of his distillery since March.

He, like many other small business owners, are encouraging the community to shop local.

“Small businesses are integral to creating innovation and culture in our community” Bergh said. “Owners are just trying to keep their people employed and put food on the table for their families. It’s now more important than ever to go out and support them and the diversity they create."

The regional stay-at-home order will go into effect Sunday at 11:59 p.m. for Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties.