Norco restaurant opens for dine-in service against governor's orders

A Norco restaurant has reopened for dine-in business before the state has allowed such reopenings, while following social distancing guidelines.
NORCO, Calif. (KABC) -- A Norco restaurant has reopened for dine-in business, following many of the guidelines set forth by Gov. Gavin Newsom for restaurants to follow when they are eventually allowed to reopen.

But the restaurant is technically not in compliance with the governor's orders, because he has yet to specifically authorize dine-in restaurants to reopen for service.

"So far the response has been overwhelmingly positive," said Megan Kikugawa, owner and co-operator of The Original Pancake House in Norco. "But there's always going to be that one person who isn't happy."

Kikugawa said the past two months have been brutal for their business. Sales have plunged more than 80% during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It's been extremely tough. Our employees and businesses are literally living paycheck to paycheck."

But even though they're open, it's not exactly business as usual. There is signage throughout the establishment reminding patrons to follow physical-distancing guidelines. Many tables were intentionally left empty to keep people spaced apart. And employees were all wearing masks and gloves.

"We're following all of the guidelines posted by the CDC, and all of the guidelines announced by the state of California on Tuesday."

Local authorities don't appear to be getting involved in Kikugawa's decision to reopen against the governor's orders. Riverside county Sheriff Chad Bianco said he won't enforce those guidelines. Riverside County Public Health said it is a "state issue."

The Riverside County board of supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday to urge the governor to allow certain local businesses, including restaurants, churches, and personal grooming services, to reopen with modifications. Second district supervisor Karen Spiegel said she wants businesses to reopen but doesn't want them to get in trouble with state authorities.

"We can't help them when the state comes after them," said Spiegel. "Especially if you're talking licensing, cosmetology, medical, the ABC, is nothing that the county can help them with. They may get in hot water, and we can't help them."
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