Second wave of virus closures wallops California restaurants
Homayoun Dariyani was training servers and cooks for his soon-to-open gourmet hamburger grill in March when California abruptly shut down dine-in restaurants to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
After a three-month delay, Dariyani held the grand opening for Slater’s 50/50 on June 18 after the state allowed restaurants to operate with limited capacity. It would be a brief reprieve.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday shuttered indoor dining for at least three weeks across much of the nation’s most populated state, warning that infections were rapidly climbing.
The sudden reversal, less than two weeks after Dariyani opened the doors of his restaurant in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Clarita, left him stunned and in a financial fix. He had stockpiled fresh beef and produce for a busy Fourth of July weekend, which now could turn into a five-figure loss.
He’s struggling — again — to keep 60 workers on the payroll with nearly 300 seats inside his restaurant empty. He has a takeout window and room for 80 on his patios, where customers are allowed to eat because the threat of virus transmission is much lower outdoors.
The latest order was especially painful for those in the restaurant industry who believed they did everything right, investing heavily in staff training and gloves, masks and other supplies to meet health restrictions.
At critically acclaimed Guerrilla Tacos in Los Angeles, chef-owner Wes Avila had just reopened Wednesday after two weeks of employee training for pandemic-era food service. Now, like Dariyani, he has to come up with a new plan.
“There’s not like a consultant you can hire to fix this,” Avila said.