The Tri-County Health Department has ordered the closure of a Castle Rock restaurant that opened on Mother’s Day to in-person dining in defiance of Colorado rules banning in-person dining.
Gov. Jared Polis’ administration has also suspended the restaurant’s license indefinitely.
A video posted by Colorado Community Media showed people sitting at tables and waiting close together in line at the counter while others lined up outside for a chance to get inside the eatery about 30 miles south of Denver. Except for one person wearing a mask, the scene and the din of people talking appeared like just another busy day at a restaurant before the government limited eateries to all but take out service to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
In a tweet with a President Donald Trump mention, owners of C&C Coffee and Korean Kitchen said they were standing up for America, small businesses, the Constitution and against the overreach of Democratic Colorado Gov. Jared Polis in response to the outbreak.
Tri-County says C&C Coffee must remain closed until the health department determined is it in compliance with Polis’ public health order mandating that restaurants only be open for takeout and delivery.
Tri-County says if the restaurant refuses, “legal action will be taken that could include revocation of the restaurant’s license.”
“It is disheartening that this restaurant has chosen to move ahead of the public orders and not even consider implementing best practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Dr. John M. Douglas, executive director of Tri-County Health Department, said in a written statement. “It is not fair to the rest of the community and other business owners that are following Safer at Home and doing their part. We sincerely hope that C&C will choose to cooperate with the rules under which they are allowed to operate so we can lift this closure order.”
The owners, Jesse and April Arellano, could not be reached for comment by telephone on Monday. After struggling and laying off most of their staff during the outbreak, Jesse Arellano told KCNC-TV on Sunday that they wanted to stand up for small businesses and wake up lawmakers. He acknowledged they could face sanctions for their actions but said they wanted to know how much support they had.
“We figured if we’re going to crash, we’re going to go down and see how many people stand with us,” Jesse Arellano told the station.
While most restaurants in Colorado are not allowed to offer sit-down service under Polis’ latest order, the state has allowed restaurants in western Colorado’s Mesa County to open tables to customers — though only at 30% capacity — because of its low number of cases.
Mesa County has not had any coronavirus deaths. Douglas County, a wealthy county that is a mix of suburban and rural areas, including Castle Rock, has had 28 deaths due to the virus, about 3% of the statewide count.
The Colorado Sun contributed to this report.
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