North Park

Popular Restaurant Says Threats, Not County, Forced Them Into Compliance

Rudford's in North Park planned to defy Purple Tier restrictions, but alleged vandalism and threats led to the owner's change of heart

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San Diego County officials are promising to get tough with enforcement now that we're in Purple Tier and COVID-19 cases are escalating, but a North Park restaurant ready to defy the latest restrictions was scared into compliance by something else. 

“We were going to defy the order, but we got a lot of threats over the phone.  Someone came and broke the window last night. It’s just crazy,” said Jeff Kacha, owner of Rudford's in North Park.

The decision to comply, like the initial decision to defy, was tough for Kacha given what the pandemic has done to revenues at his decades-old diner.

“They cut 25% of the dining room. We’re at 100% outside, our business is down 60%. It keeps going down farther. Don't know how long we can keep in this situation," Kacha said.

Kacha has been surviving this economic tailspin for months and has been a strong voice in the resistance of small businesses standing up to restrictions on the industry.

The resistance was short-lived after the threats, and Kacha instead decided to tent his patio. He's even considering spending thousands of dollars removing windows to expand outdoor seating and improve ventilation.

No matter what Kacha does, it seems he can't please everyone. Some have taken to social media to voice their opinions on how he chooses to run his business.

“It’s a shame you've decided to prioritize yourselves instead of your customers' safety. You've definitely lost a previous fan," one customer wrote in reference to Kacha's non-compliance.

Another responded, “I'm proud of them for standing up against the closures."

Jesse Greika, a manager at Urban Mo's in Hillcrest, said he supports the restrictions, and that his restaurant is following all the rules.

“We’re only going to get through this if we work together," Greika said.

But the rules that don't always sit well with some customers.

"Here in Hillcrest, we're pretty good. It’s the visitors from out of town that seem to have an issue. We've heard everything from 'You're taking away our rights,' to -- I’ve  been personally spit on and pushed for just asking someone to wear a mask," said Greika.

Since re-entering the Purple Tier, the county has sent at least 19 cease-and-desist letters to a dozen businesses.

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