What's next for Valley restaurants during looming stay-home order

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The looming stay home order issued by the state has many restaurant owners worried that this could be their last service.

On Sunday at midnight, all restaurants must stop serving guests for in-person dining and revert back to delivery or takeout.

"It is just one blow after another, after another," says Nathan Ahle, CEO of the Fresno Chamber of Commerce.

Ahle says they serve 1,100 businesses in Fresno that employ about 75,000 people across the Valley.

He anticipates the new order to be devastating for small businesses, especially restaurants.

"Not only have they lost the revenue that would come from serving customers outdoors, but they have lost the costs that they have put into modifying their restaurants," Ahle said.

Chuck Van Fleet, the owner of Vino Grille & Spirits, spends more than $3,000 a month to operate his outdoor dining area.

He rented a tent through December that he won't be able to use for the next three weeks.

But what concerns Van Fleet the most is how to keep his 32 workers employed.

"I think it is just immoral and I don't know how I am going to make payroll, but I can't lay them off," he said. "These people are family."

Van Fleet is also the President of the California Restaurant Association's Fresno Chapter.

He's already been notified of certain restaurants closing down completely through the stay home order.

"I talked to four restaurateurs yesterday that are closing down either yesterday or tonight that have no intention of opening up," he said. "That's four people that are losing 15-20 employees."

Van Fleet is concerned for the future of his business, but he says he'll keep doing what he can to keep his doors open.

"Go to bed, get up tomorrow and fight and that is what a lot of us are doing," he said.

The stay home order goes into effect tonight at midnight, but most restaurants and bars will be closed by that time because of the 10 pm curfew already in place.

The new order is expected to last at least three weeks.
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