COVID-19 impacting restaurant industry in OC; 40% of restaurants currently closed

The Orange County Restaurant Association said roughly 40% of restaurants are closed due to the pandemic.  

Pamela Waitt, the President of the OC Restaurant Association said they are working with restaurants and providing resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. The association started  "" to give restaurants a platform to use.

"It's been devastating to all restaurants everywhere. Restaurants are the heart and soul of our communities so when as many as 40% of them are closed, it's been devastating. Roughly 40% of our restaurants are closed just because whatever reason, it takes a lot of money to stay open, and some places aren't in a prime location to offer takeout," said Waitt.

Waitt said the concern is the number of businesses that may not be able to reopen at all during the pandemic.

"I think in the summer time we'll really be able to see what we're going to be left with, what we're dealing with, how many are shutting down permanently," said Waitt.

Waitt said restaurants in Santa Ana specifically have been impacted.

"Santa Ana has been hit really tough because they have so many government buildings that are closed and they rely on that foot traffic," said Waitt.

Mariscos El Cangrejo Nice in Santa Ana is only operating four days each week because of the pandemic.

"Before the pandemic, normally our restaurant would always be busy. We would normally have all the tables spread out. The service is going down little by little, but we're trying to bring it up by opening more days but because business is slow, we only have a few days open," said Dalia Garcia-Ceja, a waitress at the restaurant.

Ceja said she is grateful to still be working.

"It affected me a lot. I used to work here six days now I only work two days so thank God I'm still working," said Ceja.

The pandemic is impacting the entire staff.

"You put in  all this hard work and then one day, everything just gets taken away and it's really devastating because you just don't know where you are financially," said Ceja.

Ceja said the staff sanitizes the counters and restaurant constantly to keep customers safe, and hopes the community will continue to support them.

"I do believe there are businesses that will go out of business. You might not see what goes on behind the scenes and who runs the business, but at the end of the day, they have bills just like us," said Ceja.