CA restaurant owner claims to find 'loophole' to remain open during COVID-19 stay-home order

LODI, Calif. -- Central California has been hit hard by the winter wave of the coronavirus. The region recently fell below a hospital ICU capacity of 15%, triggering a required stay-at-home order for three weeks, as directed by Governor Gavin Newsom.

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But a restaurant owner in Lodi says he has found a loophole to be able to continue operating.

Denis Xeros of Denis' Country Kitchen has not opened his restaurant to the public, technically. Instead, Xeros has been charging customers $1 upon entry as a "membership fee," hoping it will be a solution to keep him from going under.

"We all need income, we have rent to pay, those things aren't stopping," Xeros said. "We were already barely making it. I found that loophole, and I'm going for it."

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The tents at the Train Depot restaurant in Central Fresno sit empty as owner Patricia Escovedo is forced to pivot once again to comply with the states latest stay home order.

Denis' Country Kitchen has been open for nearly 30 years. Xeros plans to stay open no matter what, to protect his restaurant and his employees.

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