LIVERMORE (KPIX 5) – A group of East Bay restaurant owners upset over the latest shutdowns mull protests as the current stay-at-home order bans outdoor dining until early January.

The Tri-Valley restaurant group comprised of 90 restaurants in the valley held a meeting over Zoom to come up with a plan to stay in business. For many business owners, it’s the last straw.

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“We are really, really hurting. Restaurants are absolutely hurting. We are being decimated,” said Jesus Orozco, owner of Casa Orozco restaurant and bar.

Monica Barajas, who owns Monica’s Livermore told KPIX 5, “We already had groups of restaurants that were already on the brink and this could be the turning point. This could be the thing that pushes them over the edge.”

An empty outdoor dining table in the East Bay during the stay-at-home order, December 8, 2020. (CBS)

An empty outdoor dining table in the East Bay during the stay-at-home order, December 8, 2020. (CBS)

Orozco said they have made so many accommodations for outdoor dining and it’s never enough.

“And then they say, ‘Well, now you got to do this.’  Fine, we will do that. And then they say, ‘Thanks for doing all of that, you’re going to be shut down for three weeks.’ Maybe three weeks,” Orozco said. “Let’s see what really happens January 4th. I don’t freaking believe for a minute they are going to allow us to open. I really have no faith.”

“When you feel like you’ve been wronged, what do you do? You have to find a way,” said Todd Utikal of Sidetrack Bar and Grill in Pleasanton.

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He said the reality is that they might have to protest the latest shutdown order.

“Protesting is allowed. So there’s a thought amongst these restaurants that we might need to protest every day, lunch time and dinner time on our patios, by serving the community,” said Utikal.

“It is a peaceful protest to say you can have your food on our patio. We are going make sure everything is clean, everything is right. You will be safer here than you will with getting 10 people together at somebody’s house,” he went on to say.

Orozco, a long time restaurant owner, said it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel right now.

“I don’t even have the words to express how I feel about my staff have to lose their jobs, and lot of them did. And I fought for them, I fought hard. It’s just nothing there. The tank is almost empty,” said Orozco.

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Among the sectors remaining open during the stay-at-home order include swim schools, outdoor gyms and retail at 20% capacity. Along with outdoor and indoor dining, sectors that are closed include playgrounds, salons, barbershops and other personal care services.

Juliette Goodrich