Orange County

OC Restaurant Hits Capacity After Opening Doors, Ignoring Stay-at-Home Orders

With the sun shining on the Nomads deck Sunday, customers said they are tired of being stuck at home.

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Some business owners in South Orange County say enough is enough and reopened despite California's Stay-at-Home order.

The owner of Nomads Canteen in San Clemente said he reached out to city and county officials to let them know he was going to reopen and that no one stopped him.

Nomads was full to capacity not long after the doors opened Sunday.

"I’m emotional," Jeff Gourey, the restaurant's owner, said. "It’s a bigger fight than for my restaurant. It’s for my people."

Fighting back tears, Gourey said he has 25 employees who rely on his payroll. His restaurant had been serving take-out only since mid-March, but that was bringing in just 10% of usual business.

Said Gourey, "How long do we hide from it, regardless? We can’t stop working. We can’t stop living."

With the sun shining on the Nomads deck Sunday, customers said they are tired of being stuck at home.


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"I miss the interaction and being out," Lark Sampson, a customer said.

Rich Barry, another customer, added, "It feels extraordinary to be in a restaurant because it’s been six weeks."

Inside the restaurant, Gourey said he’s telling people to practice social distancing, but he says he believes he and his staff are young and healthy enough to survive COVID-19 if they contract the virus.

"Six weeks it plenty of time, that’s what I believe," Gourey said. "On a sunny day like this, no one is at risk."

Gourey is not alone in losing patience with the state orders.

Another entrepreneur who opened up shop eight years ago, like Gourey, has opened her business despite state and county health orders. Ritual Boutique owner Stacey Cameron says she is following Gourey’s plan.

Both business owners say they believe the coronavirus is a real threat but so is shutting down for too long.

"I’m just trying to make a living and trying to keep my store afloat," Cameron said.

She added, "I don’t know if i’m going to survive. I mean having some generous people over a few days isn’t going to make me. This has gone on too long."

Customers are starting to trickle back into the boutique, but with stay-at-home orders still in place, business is unlikely to return to normal just yet.

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