Fresno restaurant owners come together to urge lawmakers to help

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Local business owners came together on Thursday to call on lawmakers for help.

With no end in sight to the dine-in restrictions handed down by the state, many restaurant owners say their businesses may not survive.

They gathered at Yosemite Falls Cafe on Blackstone in Fresno to share their stories about the devastating impacts COVID-19-related closures have had on their businesses and their own families.

Janet Butcher, owner of the Shanty Bar, said the costs to keep a business afloat haven't let up - even with the doors to her bar closed for five months.

"If we don't get to open in three weeks, I don't think I am going to make it. I might also have to close. And it's devastating to me," she said.

Vatche Moukhtarian owns Cracked Pepper Bistro. He pointed out that giant retailers remain open for indoor shopping. And he said he thinks local business owners like him should get the same opportunity to provide a safe atmosphere for customers.

"Just give us a chance, that same chance as the big box stores," he said.

He's made safety changes and upgrades related to the pandemic that have cost him about $60,000 out of his own pocket to keep his business afloat.

"I keep hearing non-essential. Well, my family is essential. And my staff is essential. So I need to provide for at least thirty people and my family," he said.

Fresno County supervisor Steve Brandau spoke out too, putting the accountability of small business struggles on Governor Gavin Newsom.

"He does not know what is going on... he is changing the color codes all the time, changing his mind, changing the parameters," said Fresno Co. supervisor Steve Brandau.

Meanwhile, Fresno City Councilmember Garry Bredefeld urged business owners to keep the pressure on their local representatives.
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