STOCKTON — It has been more than 10 days since Gov. Gavin Newsom called for a statewide halt to dine-in service at restaurants because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Most businesses in San Joaquin County have responded, either by offering only take-out service or closing. But as of this week at least one Stockton eatery has not heeded the order.
The Ranch Coffee Shop on Mariposa Road has been in existence since 1955, and on Thursday one could walk inside and get a blast from the recent past. A few customers sat in the dining room, quietly speaking among themselves and finishing breakfast. Not long after a party of four walked in and were seated by owner Dorothy Clare.
“We’re very careful,” Clare said when asked about seating customers. She did not discuss the reason for keeping the dining room open and not converting to delivery or curbside service. She did talk about the financial hardships of the crisis.
“It’s been very tough to keep going in any way,” Clare said.
The diners inside the coffee shop declined to be interviewed, but Dan Soleno of Fresno, who was on his way back to his car, said Ranch Coffee Shop is one of his favorite stops.
He comes to Stockton often for business and stops in to grab something to eat. He did not dine-in on this occasion, grabbing something to go.
“It’s a great place,” Soleno said. “But you have to be careful, for yourself and others.”
Newsom’s March 17 order allows eating establishments to stay open for pickups and deliveries, and food trucks were not affected.
Clare said the situation could cause her to close permanently, a fear shared throughout the restaurant industry.
In a letter to Newsom obtained by The Associated Press, the California Restaurant Association said the trade-off for protective public health measures that have limited restaurants to takeout and delivery “has been a near decimation of our … industry.”
“We believe the state has a moral obligation to take equally aggressive steps to address the economic harm caused by these measures,” the group wrote.
Even with Washington’s $2.2 trillion economic rescue package, up to 30% of the state’s 90,000 restaurants could close without additional help from the state, the letter said.
Among the proposals: Delaying planned increases in the state’s minimum wage; postponing property tax payments; deferring sales and payroll taxes; canceling health and permit fees for a year; and requiring gas and other utilities to continue service, even without payment.
Organized labor promised to aggressively oppose any effort to hold off on scheduled wage increases for workers.
Steve Smith of the California Labor Federation said in an email that “restaurant and retail workers are on the front lines of this crisis, providing basic necessities to those in need. It’s no time to be talking about stripping away hard-earned wages workers have been promised.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article
Contact reporter Scott Linesburgh at (209) 546-8282 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter@ScottLinesburgh.
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