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SLO bars close, uncertain when it will 'pencil out' to reopen

Angel Russell/KCBX News
The popular downtown SLO bar Frog & Peach is now re-shuttered for the time being.

Bars, breweries and wine tasting venues are closing their doors Thursday night in San Luis Obispo after the city issued temporary restrictions for the 4th of July holiday.

Billy Hales, owner of 14 bars and restaurants along the Central Coast, said he was already planning on closing his bars Frog & Peach, The Library, McCarthys, and Bulls in downtown San Luis Obispo before the order even came down.

“Especially with all the fireworks closed down, I think people are still coming over to the Central Coast for the weekend, and those are the people that are coming from the areas where the testing is a bit higher,” Hales said. “So our staff expressed concern, rightly so, we just figured it’s better to play it safe and go that route.”

Although city officials say bars in San Luis Obispo can reopen on Monday if they operate at 25 percent capacity, Hales said he’s not sure he will.

“These decisions are made by people who have no clue about how these businesses work and 25 percent is not worth opening,” Hales said. “It’s a numbers game, if you have an occupancy of 100 and you can only have 25 people, at some point it just doesn’t pencil.”

Businesses in Pismo Beach were already expecting an influx of tourists, but now they expect even more with closures in effect in neighboring counties.

“Especially since so many beaches have been closed, but yet our beaches are open, we expect to see a lot of people in Pismo,” said Deborah Rivera, manager at Brad’s Restaurant in downtown Pismo Beach.

Rivera said even with the pier closed and the annual fireworks show canceled, she and the restaurant’s staff are expecting and ready to handle the crowds.

“We’re not nervous,” Rivera said. “We’ll just go with the flow.”

Although San Luis Obispo has ordered wineries to also close, most of the wine tasting rooms neighboring the city are in Edna Valley.

Clint Grubb, tasting room manager at Wolf Vineyards expects most—if not all—wineries to stay open.

“We are outdoors, we are on a hill, if you’ve ever been to the Edna Valley you know that it's rare when it's not breezy up here,” Grubb said. “My staff is entirely masked up. In full honesty, if we didn’t feel this was safe we wouldn’t be operating.”

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.
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