By Anna Giles

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento County restaurants are back to the bottom line — no bars and no indoor dining — as coronavirus cases surge.

A sink or swim moment has arrived for the second time. The decision to ban indoor dining comes ahead of a holiday weekend doctors said is critical. COVID-19 cases are spiking in Sacramento and ignoring social distancing could make it worse.

El Santo on K Street opened for dine-in for the first time just last week. They didn’t even have the chance to get out the gate before Wednesday’s mandate.

Manager Aydalys Ortiz says it bluntly: “We’re going broke. That’s it, we’re going broke to try and stay open.” She said thousands of dollars worth of Mexican food and Brazilian meats that were just ordered might never get sold.

“Every day we’re trying to do specials just to get the food out because last time when we closed down we had to throw everything away,” Ortiz said.

READ: California Creates ‘Strike Teams’ To Enforce Virus Limits

The $26,000 monthly rent check has been impossible to cover.

“We’re not getting a break here. The rent is high, they’re not waiving our rent,” Ortiz said.

El Santo was one of few places on the block even open. Many are operating under temporary hours and some restaurants appear to be not opening at all. A few miles away, the tables at Cilantros will go back to seeing no action.

“My common sense tells me that we’re going to have to find different ways to work,” said Hugo Cervantes, the owner.

For Cervantes, the slim down started weeks ago. He’s not just the owner there now. He’s the cook and the dishwasher. He relies almost entirely on family for staffing.

“I go buy my own product most of the time right now. Smaller portions so we can move everything,” Cervantes said.

But he’s running out of back up plans for the curve balls COVID-19 keeps throwing.

“Our plan B is this, us stepping in,” he said.

Will the to-go orders be enough to survive? Everyone CBS13 talked to Wednesday said they have to keep a positive attitude, for the sake of their mental health. But a nagging feeling persists.

“At what point can you just not even do it anymore? I’m not trying to think about that. Because I feel it, but I’m not trying to voice it,” Ortiz said.

Comments (4)
  1. Steve Durward says:

    It’s not the virus killing off these businesses it’s the politicians. Thanks for not even mentioning that the protesters are the main reason these businesses are now going under. They came out in the tens of thousands and then went home full of covid juice spreading it to their own families and the onslaught began. Thanks you you weak city and state officials for letting them spread the non existent virus.

  2. NPC says:

    “non existent virus”

  3. Eileen L Grossman Kephart says:

    Too-early business reopenings, people gathering in large numbers despite the exponential rise in COVID 19 cases, and the failure of many people to “Mask Up” and socially distance while in public, are the reasons businesses are going under, NOT the folks protesting continuing social injustice, so stop scapegoating the protesters, folks.

  4. Baldwin Hodge says:

    At this time, anyone going out in public – especially into large gatherings such as protests – are going to be exposed to Covid. We need to stop punishing small businesses with off-and-on closures or we will be killing the heart and soul of our cities. We already are. I’ve driven down J Street and seen the waste that is left. Go take a look at the boarded up businesses who were already hurt by Covid closures and then wrecked by looters. Let’s get real here.

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