The Pasadena City Council decided Monday to allow outdoor dining to continue and ignore the Los Angeles County ban that goes into effect on Wednesday night following a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases.
"It’s nice knowing we can still serve tonight definitely," says Jojo Anaya Sandoval, the manager at Anaya restaurant on Colorado Boulevard.
Anaya has been open less than a year, and the pandemic has been tough on business.
"It’s day-to-day; there’s not one thing we are not stressing about," Sandoval says.
A few blocks away, Mi Piace’s has been around 31 years and is seemingly affected the same as the restaurant that is three decades younger.
"The not knowing...the constant changing, as we see it, it’s not based in empirical evidence," says Armen Shirvanian, the owner of Mi Piace.
At a virtual city council meeting Monday, council members heard from many of the family-run restaurant owners in the area.
"For every one employee, there’s a family behind them and in some cases they are sole providers for these families," said Lisa Derderian, Pasadena's public information officer.
Pasadena has its own health department and decided to continue outdoor dining within its city limits, less than 24 hours after LA County announced limiting restaurants, bars, breweries and wineries to takeout, drive-thru and delivery for a minimum of three weeks.
"We want to try to do what we can to keep them up and running," Derderian said. "Balance the fine line with Covid numbers."
The city of Pasadena says it will send out health inspectors to make sure restaurants aren’t allowing large gatherings and are enforcing social distancing rules, and restaurant owners say they welcome those inspections.
"Everyone is spaced, the tables have been cleaned, all our servers are wearing shields and masks," says Shirvanian. "This is not where Covid occurs."
For family run businesses like Mi Piace’s and Anaya, outdoor dining has been keeping them afloat. Without it, they say the only places that will survive are the chain restaurants.
"You can’t go to sporting events; you can’t go to the movies; you can’t go to concerts," the Mi Piace owner added. "So this is really important for the soul--and California."