Local restaurant owners urge California to allow indoor dining in Fresno County

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Restaurant owners who say they may never recover from the pandemic are now begging city leaders to allow them to reopen now before any more permanent closures happen.

The bills are not only stacked high for most, now some businesses are also starting to get default notices.

At Jugo Salad and Juice Bar in northeast Fresno, there's not nearly as much to toss and serve lately.

"We've dropped off about a third of what we normally do, especially for this time of the year. This is our busiest time of the year," says owner Lewis Everk.

It's been a domino effect for Everk, especially since his customer base is directly related to other places currently closed.

"This location here on Champlain and Perrin is really dependent on teachers. Our teachers would really provide our lunch rushes and more than that the gyms. We've really positioned our businesses around the gyms," Everk says.

At City Hall on Wednesday, during a press conference organized to address the issue, business owner Manny Perales said each day the financial picture becomes more grim.

Three weeks ago, he had to permanently close his northwest Fresno restaurant - High Sierra Grill. He still co-owns and operates Yosemite Falls Cafe, but each day just brings more debt.

"Are you going and seeing the tears of some of these business owners that put their life savings... and a lot of times some of these Latino families get together to raise the funds to open up a business. So you don't know how many families you are affecting," said Perales.

As of now, 250 businesses in Fresno County are planning to reopen on October 1st. The official list has not been released.

A few weeks ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom and state health officials introduced a new tiered system to determine when counties could reopen certain business sectors.

Fresno County is currently in the purple tier, which only allows for restaurants to offer outdoor dining.

Restaurant owners have invested in making outdoor dining available to customers, but have been met with challenges, including extreme heat and now smoke from nearby wildfires.

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