LOS ANGELES - Restaurants across Los Angeles embraced their last night of outdoor dining before the ban kicked in Wednesday at 10 p.m.
Los Angeles Public Health officials ordered the outdoor dining ban, citing a surge in COVID-19 cases, and now restaurants will not be able to offer outdoor dining for at least three weeks. The restaurants can still offer take-out, delivery and drive-thru services.
The manager of El Huarache Azteca, Omar Rodriguez, is concerned about the restaurant's future. It's a fan favorite in Highland Park and has been for 25 years. Rodriguez' mom is the owner of the establishment.
"It means everything to us. Honest to God, this business is what's kept all of us such as aunts, cousins, uncles. It's all because of this so with everything that's going on, it's stressful for us," said Rodriguez.
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Rodriguez and his family remodeled their patio area to make it safe for customers during the pandemic with a hand sanitizer station, and rented items, but they won't be able to serve customers outdoors with the ban.
"We have a bunch of tables in the back and shutting all that down cuts more than half of everything we're doing and it's been very difficult," said Rodriguez.
Without the tables to serve, the restaurant is forced to cut staff for now.
"Unfortunately, we did have to ask some of them [staff] to take a hiatus. We didn't let them go because we do always want them to come back, but we did tell them to give us some time, especially right now, since we're closing out the outdoor dining," Rodriguez said.
Like many restaurants, El Huarache Azteca is concerned about surviving the closure.
"If we have another round of this, it might affect us to the point where we might have to close our doors, which is something that we're trying to avoid completely. It'll be heartbreaking," said Rodriguez.
The owner of the iconic "The Abbey" in West Hollywood, David Cooley, believes he will go out of business from the ban.
"It'll probably put me out of business forever like many other small businesses. This is particularly hard for the hospitality industry going into the holidays," said Cooley.
Rodriguez is hoping their strong customer base will help them survive the ban and is asking people for support.
"COVID is a scary thing so I understand people not wanting to come out, but any support we could for, for all of the small businesses around the neighborhood, I appreciate it a lot. I really do," he said.
Officials with LA Public Health say in-person dining will not be allowed for the next three weeks. The county also added new restrictions to non-essential businesses, ordering them to close between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.