EL DORADO COUNTY (CBS13) — The owners of two El Dorado County restaurants have lost their health permits after openly defying state health rules.
Café El Dorado and Apple Bistro face hundreds of dollars in fines, but the owners said they won’t close. Customers said they’ll keep coming if the doors stay open.
Both restaurants display the same sign near their front doors. It says: “No social conditioning. No Oxygen deprivation mask.” They both lost their permits for not enforcing social distancing or mask-wearing. And both don’t care.
“I don’t have any intention of closing. I’ll just operate without a license, I don’t care. They can’t take it anyway,” said Cherie Baldridge, who owns Café El Dorado.
El Dorado County leaders said the next step is fines, up to $500 a day. The health department will visit both restaurants later this week and if they’re still open, the daily fines will kick in.
“It’s unfortunate that it’s come to this, to this place. This is not the action we wanted to take as a county,” said Carla Hass, a county spokesperson.
Hass rejects claims from these restaurant owners that the county has no authority to enforce state health rules.
“We are certainly well within our rights and realm of responsibility as the environmental management department,” she said.
Baldridge told CBS13 that groups of supporters have been filling her parking lot. She said they’re preventing state and local officials from coming on her property.
“I’ve got the community backing me up. So I just have them on speed dial,” Baldridge said.
The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) is also investigating Café El Dorado and Apple Bistro for health violations. ABC has said it’s possible for restaurants to lose their license, but that’s a last resort and long process.
This enforcement struggle comes as El Dorado County fights to stay off the state watch list.
“For the most part the vast majority of our residents and business owners are doing the right thing,” Hass said.