Business owners get creative, take it outside to beat coronavirus shutdowns

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Central Valley business owners are trying to adjust to new closure orders from the state by getting creative.

The sidewalks of Old Town Clovis are filling up with people; not walking, but eating.

When Gov. Newsom ordered inside operations to shut down, the city encouraged restaurants to move into the outdoors.

RELATED: Gov. Newsom orders hair salons, gyms, churches, other businesses to close indoor operations in most Central CA counties

Pollasky Ave. is now lined with dining tables and chairs.

At Blast & Brew, the sidewalks and patio filled up, so a tent popped up.

"Essentially, we're chasing the shade," said manager Dallas Lee. "So anything we can do make sure our tables and everything are in our shade."

Restaurant owners worry about serving customers in summer heat, but they're adapting as they make the move.

Some of the adaptations might get a little bit expensive, like getting a giant swamp cooler so people can feel comfortable sitting outside.

As of Monday, gyms, hair salons, nail salons, and churches joined restaurants in the ban on indoor operations.

So some of them are adapting too.

"Yeah, It's an investment," said Rachael Orlando of CycleBar. "We still pay rent on our space inside that we can't use and now we are paying to try and create something on the outside."

CycleBar set up some benches outside its Clovis studio Tuesday morning.

By Wednesday, they hope to be ready to run full classes in the parking lots at its locations in Clovis and on Friant Rd.

"We have tenting and some cooling fans that are going to be delivered," Orlando said. "We're prepping both spaces today and then we're also getting sound and audio ready."

It's not ideal, but Orlando recognizes the need to evolve for now.

She says some of her clients say they'll be more comfortable coming to a class taking place outside.

Dallas Lee says Blast & Brew customers are loyal, but they'd rather not stay outside.

"They've watched us," she said. "They know how sanitary we are and exactly what we've done to keep them safe inside. They trust us and they want to come back. I know that if my doors were open, they'd come back inside."

Fresno County is still firmly on the state's watch list because of the number of new cases and the positive test rate, so this outdoor experiment could last a while.
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