Mask Enforcement Puts New Burden on Restaurant Workers

One Solana Beach restaurant owner said mandating facial coverings at her eatery has been exhausting since there are some customers who have refused to comply

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The challenge of running a small business has greatly increased during the coronavirus pandemic and among those challenges is making sure customers wear facial coverings.

“You’re coming into our home, and we’re trying to make you comfortable, so having to tell somebody you can’t come in 'cause you don’t have a mask, all that stuff can get really exhausting,” said Marie Brawn, owner of Homestead Solana Beach.

For Marie Brawn and her husband Jamie, Homestead is a dream that's been years in the making.

“The food is fantastic. It’s made from scratch. We make all our own sauces. We put a lot of love into it. It’s fun,” said Brawn

Shortly after opening, the pandemic hit. Homestead survived by partnering with a non-profit to provide school lunches. The Brawns reopened their restaurant in May with outdoor dining.

“We have to support our kids. We’re making it happen through this mess,” said Brawn.

Reopening meant new rules for the business and new mask requirements for customers, but not everyone wanted to cover their face.

“We had someone silently protesting,” said Brawn.

Telling people to wear masks, or to leave is the last thing Brawn and her workers want to do.

“It’s tough on the staff," Brawn said. "You’re asking your staff who has been through so much to police adults and that’s very very hard."

Brawn has been forced to confront a customer.

“That individual decided not to wear a mask, so they weren’t invited back. Two weeks later they came back with a mask,” said Brawn.

“Just slow it down and take it easy. Know that we’re working twice as hard for half the money,” Brawn added.

Like many other restaurant owners, Brawn has lost money during the pandemic and has been forced to lay off employees. It is common for Brawn and her husband to work in their masks for 10 to 12 hours a day. She understands some people don’t agree with face coverings.

“There is a time and place for that. It’s not at Homestead. Do that somewhere else,” Brawn said.

“Come be loved on. Just wear a mask for five to 10 minutes, it’s fine,” Brawn added.

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