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SLO County restaurants brace for rain to dampen business

Courtesy of morrobay.org
Mi Casa restaurant in Morro Bay has depended on a large patio to keep serving customers during pandemic shutdowns.

With the strictest stay-at-home order now extended for the Southern California region—which includes San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties—area restaurants are facing another hurdle as winter rains arrive.

The large outdoor patio at Mi Casa Restaurant in Morro Bay remains empty, as the first significant winter rain showers hit the Central Coast.

With indoor serving closed, and outdoor seating too wet for customers, server Michelle Morales worked the phones, hoping for a busy day of people ordering take-out. 

“It has been a hit or miss," Morales said. "But you always have your regulars, or the people who are really generous.”

The Newsom administration extended current shutdown orders Tuesday. Morales said she was expecting the lockdown to continue.

“It’s tough," Morales said. "But I am just trying to stay positive and keep on going.”

Santa Maria resident Dandrick Arandia has been working as a server at Jaffa Cafe in Arroyo Grande for the last five months. He said he applied everywhere he could with hopes of getting a job during the pandemic to help his family. 

“It was kind of hard for me to get a job, so I was doing Doordash for a while, and things didn’t work out," Arandia said. "I have to help out my mom because she lost her job due to COVID, so I’m glad that I’m working here now.”

Arandia said the restaurant is doing take-out only for now, and he expects business to be slow on rainy days. But he’s keeping his fingers crossed for more in-house dining options, especially during the winter months. 

“It’s been a long time," Arandia said. "So hopefully everything goes back to normal, that’s all I wish for.”

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.