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Not all San Diego restaurants will reopen, despite court order

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Posted at 4:39 PM, Dec 17, 2020

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A Superior Court judge gave San Diego County restaurants the green light to serve on-site again, but not all will make use of the opportunity.

For Roddy Browning, the pressure to reopen his restaurant is intense.

“We lay in bed at 2:30 in the morning, going, 'Okay, what am I going to do? What am I going to do tomorrow? What am I going to do the next day?'” said Browning, who owns Oceanside's Flying Pig Pub and Kitchen.

Browning said sales are down 60% and employees have been reduced from 30 to 12. Reopening for outdoor dining under the new court ruling could boost those numbers.

“The state's going to appeal it, and what is the point in opening back up again, and then bringing all these people back to work and saying okay guys the ruling changed, now we're going to have to kick you out of the restaurant again,” Browning said. “I don’t want to do that to my employees anymore.”

Don't get him wrong. Browning does plan to reopen under the new court order - but he wants to respect the full three weeks intended in this latest shutdown order, set to complete on Dec. 28.

"This is not about us against them," Browning said. "We said we would give the governor his three weeks, and I'm going to give him his three weeks."

But other San Diego restaurants are planning to remain takeout only until health officials advise otherwise.

At Spring Valley's Cali-Comfort Barbecue, a gathering place for sports fans, owner Shawn Walchef says he's not offering indoor or outdoor dining.

“We believe that the coronavirus is the antithesis of hospitality. Everything we do in our blood is to take care of people,” Walchef said. “Social distancing doesn’t work in our business. We welcome people into our homes.”

Walchef cut about half of his staff - a day he calls his toughest as a restaurant owner.

But he says Cali Comfort has fully embraced multiple digital ordering systems, helping it to remain profitable amid the pandemic.

Still, the recent order impacts many. Nearly 110,000 San Diegans worked in county restaurants in October, the latest state data available. Numbers for November are expected Friday.