A day after Gov. Gavin Newsom asked all bars in the state to shut down, a few Sacramento-based eateries are closing to safeguard customers from the COVID-19 pandemic, while others are looking for new ways to serve customers.
One of the first to close was Sacramento newcomer Jim’s Good Food in Midtown. Management said in a statement, “Out of a sense of responsibility for the safety of our staff, customers, community and ourselves Jim’s Good Food has made the decision to temporarily close our doors. But we will be back!”
The restaurant has created a GoFundMe page to help compensate staff for lost wages with a goal of raising $10,000. As of noon on Tuesday around 36 people had donated $2,376.
The Tower Cafe in Sacramento is also temporarily shutting down, restaurant management announced today.
“They closed down the bars and put restrictions on theaters. So, I’m just working in a way that is best suited for my own staff,” said owner James Seyman.
He says the health of his customers and staff is more important than staying open.
“It’s really tragic to see these people that have been so earnest in the way they are living and working and have to be put out in the cold,” said Seyman.”I can help out … overtime, but only over a limited time. It’s pretty frightening.”
He said he isn’t considering staying open as a curbside eatery, because he says it isn’t practical.
“As much as people love that cafe and have been loyal for 30 years now I think it’s in their best interest to stay away and our best interest not to serve the public,” said Seyman. “I have every intention in bringing every one of the people that I have been employing back.”
Some restaurant owners are trying to find ways to keep serving meals.
Clay Nutting, owner of Canon restaurant on 34th Street, said he and the development company BPXIO came up with an app called pickupfixe to let healthy people get dinner, without going inside the restaurant.
"Most of us are hoping that people will utilize pickup and curbside services and many people have implemented that," Nutting said. "Knowing how difficult that process can be for restaurants, this platform should help them."
The app is free to other restaurants to use and should be available within the next day or two. To minimize the risk of virus spread, all payments and tips will be made online.
He says he trusts that his employees will use common sense and existing cleanliness standards to prevent them from spreading the disease through food delivery.
"We are exceeding those already-very-high regulations. I think restaurants are certainly a trustworthy place in terms of food safety and public safety goes," Nutting said.
He asks that sick people stay home and not use the service.
The changes all come after after Newsom and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg made mirroring announcements that it’s time for bars, breweries, clubs and wineries to temporarily shut their doors in Sacramento to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
To the Sacramento community: We must all fully embrace the direction @GavinNewsom articulated today. This will require us all to make real sacrifices, but they are necessary to slow the progress of this pandemic. Our sacrifices will keep people alive.— Darrell Steinberg (@Mayor_Steinberg) March 15, 2020
But the mayor did not advise restaurants to close their doors. He asked them to think of alternative ways to do business. On Monday he added that restaurants should move entirely to curbside pickup, after initially suggesting they reduce seating capacity 50 percent.
He also noted the city is working with on-demand food delivery apps, such as Postmates, for more restaurants to opt in without startup fees. He said the city is also establishing a hotline where small businesses and workers can talk to a live person for advice and assistance with unemployment or small business forms.
The Sacramento City Council voted Friday to create a $1 million economic relief package for local businesses such as restaurants, stores and day cares. It may also provide zero-interest loans of up to $25,000.
In addition, Steinberg said Sunday that the city is working with the state Legislature and the governor’s office on a separate package to go beyond the $1 million.
“I believe the cavalry will come from a lot of directions over the course of the next couple of days or weeks to try to help out all of our individuals and businesses who were understandably worried about what this means for their lives,” said Steinberg Sunday.
CapRadio provides a trusted source of news because of you. As a nonprofit organization, donations from people like you sustain the journalism that allows us to discover stories that are important to our audience. If you believe in what we do and support our mission, please donate today.