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Central Coast restaurants face the next big pandemic challenge: Cold, wet weather

Angel Russell
Customers dine outside of Lil' Bits Cafe in Grover Beach.

Local restaurant owners have been under pressure since the start of the coronavirus pandemic; now the colder temperatures and rain will bring new challenges as outdoor dining continues.

Tammy Price is owner of Village Cafe in Arroyo Grande. She started off as a waitress there, then took ownership of it about twelve years ago. Running the business by herself while taking care of her daughter during the pandemic has been tough.

“I don’t even know how to explain how bad it is,” Price said.

Restaurants in San Luis Obispo County are currently capped at 25 percent capacity indoors, so Price had to set up tables outside. While Arroyo Grande supplied businesses with barriers, owners had to buy everything else—like tables, tents and chairs.

“The weather is not helping," Price said. "It makes you think ‘okay I would like to invest and get some big tents,’ but all that takes more money, so it puts you in a position that you just aren't able to.”

Price is surrounded by a few larger restaurants able to set up heaters at individual tables. Price cannot afford to do that, but she says she continues to do the best she can.

“I’ve made it this far," Price said. "I’m going to stay here until the end.”

Jason Goetz owns Lil Bits Cafe in Grover Beach, and is also holding off on spending more money on his outdoor setup. He said just getting the patio up and running was challenging and costly enough. 

“I went up to the hardwood store and grabbed some post and lattice and bought as many umbrellas as I could fight for," Goetz said. "Because they went really fast.”

Goetz said the colder weather and rainy days will just be another obstacle he has to face this year, but intends on keeping his business open rain or shine. 

“This business is all about change," Goetz said. "This just happens to be our first pandemic, and we are dealing with it the best we can.”

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