SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The pandemic pushed diners outside, now the smoke is sending some customers away altogether. Just as businesses started to pick up through outdoor dining creating another obstacle for restaurants.
Brannan Manor Restaurant and Spirits in Old Town Sacramento reduced staff hours last week, due to triple-digit temperatures keeping customers away from outdoor dining. This week Owner Ricardo Sibrian said the poor air quality and ash are hurting their business.
“People don’t want to go out there and have their plate, ash falling on their food. It’s tough for us in this moment,” said Sibrian.
Hoppy Brewing Company has also seen fewer customers since smoke from the wildfires spread to the area.
“Whether it’s the heat, whether it’s the smoke, whether it’s the outdoor dining, it’s the challenge of 2020,” said founder Troy Paski.
Some diners are still opting to eat outside. Friends Noelle Howard and Savannah Mangus went out in Midtown, but halfway through their meal started rethinking their decision.
“I didn’t realize how bad it was until we came out,” explained Howard. “As I’m sitting down, I’m seeing all this ash everywhere and realizing that we are eating the ash.”
The two had been looking forward to dinner after not be able to see each other during the pandemic.
“Today, was a nice treat for us because we haven’t seen each other in a while. Now that I’m thinking about it, we can go without this for a couple of weeks until things clear up,” Mangus said.
In a Facebook post viewed by thousands, Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) encouraged all restaurants to ignore state health guidelines and take dining inside.
“There is simply no reason for some of these rules. Especially, now when our biggest concern is smoke, the air quality, the threat of wildfire to continue to have these arbitrary rules that make no sense in place, look quite frankly we are done with it,” Gallagher explained.
According to Gallagher, Butte County Public Health is allowing restaurants to open inside temporarily until the smoke clears.
“It’s affecting people’s public health. For no apparent reason we are forcing them to sit out in poor air quality, smoke-filled air rather than allow indoor dining. Myself and others basically said we are not going to allow that,” said Gallagher.
Restaurants without clearance, like in Sacramento, could face fines for taking such action, it’s a risk owners are not willing to take.
“There is a certain amount of liability that comes with breaking the quote on quote rules and I don’t want to take any unnecessary chances to risk anyone’s health, life or safety,” said Paski.
Gallagher met with the California Department of Public Health Wednesday and asked if the state would be willing to consider a waiver for indoor dining. According to Gallagher’s office, they were told the state is considering an amendment to the rules for those in fire areas.