If San Diego moves to the more restrictive purple tier on Tuesday, one restaurant owner said he won't shut down his indoor dining room, insisting that he will do what he has to keep the lights on.
The demotion to the purple tier will mean restaurants will have to scale back operations and limit their dining to outdoors once again. The move is a step backward for restaurants trying to ride out COVID-19 in the hopes business returns to pre-pandemic times.
Some business owners told NBC 7 that they're struggling even without a step back to the purple tier into account. Many of them feel like they’re taking a hit caused by San Diego State's ballooning student-case count and that that the university should be excluded from the county’s patient count.
Nick Kacha, the general manager of Rudford's Restaurant in North Park for decades said he will defy the order if the county gets demoted to the purple tier and will keep running indoor operations at Rudford's.
"Like, shut our doors because of SDSU?" said Kacha. "You know, it's just … I just don't think it's right. Um, I think they should take SDSU out and, you know, continue to let us work."
While Rudford's general manager blames San Diego State's growing coronavirus cases despite the university only being part of the problem, he says it's about survival.
The owner of Tito’s Deli in Barrio Logan, however, who is also feeling the pandemic's financial pinch and disagrees with the county’s possible demotion to the purple tier, will fall in line with whatever the state mandates.
"You can't affect the whole county just because the college had all those [coronavirus cases]," said manager Michael Irizarry."
The two businesses plan on taking very different paths if the purple tier is reimposed, but both managers share the same feelings about the potential downgrade. Kacha said he is at a loss to understand how other businesses have been able to last this long, feeling like Rudford's has been in a better place than most. He said he has exhausted all the options and sees no other alternative than to disobey
"I don't know if they're ramping up their credit cards," Kacha said. "I know for us, our [federal Paycheck Protection Progam] money is already gone, and that helped us out in a really bad time at the beginning."
Kacha said the position Rudford's is taking isn't political; rather, it's about the restaurant.
"This is four our lives, and this is for all of our employees, and, you know they have their bills they have to pay," Kacha said.
County Supervisor Jim Desmond says that he will continue to fight for small businesses because he believes they have been handed impossible guidelines by the state that will keep them closed for far too long.