Restaurateurs weigh-in on 'A New California'

FOX 11 is launching a new segment that seeks to give you a glimpse of the future. What will our world look like in the post-pandemic era? We’re calling it “A New California” and tonight Marla Tellez kicks off the series with a focus on the restaurant industry.

“It’s really going to be a bottom-line decision: does it make sense to open with 50% capacity?”

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The question posed by Los Angeles restaurateur Candace Nelson is one she and thousands of other business owners in her shoes are asking these days.

Once COVID-19 runs its course and social distancing guidelines loosen, Governor Newsom hinted that the dining out experience will change.  

In a new California, restaurants could be asked to reduce dining room capacity by half and outfit staff in the proper protective gear.

Nelson, who owns Sprinkles Cupcakes and Pizzana, says she’s lucky because her Italian eateries already offered take-out and delivery service so, while she’s had to furlough some of her 100 employees, she’s still churning out her mouth-watering pizzas and subs. 

But, if she must eliminate tables to accommodate social distancing guidelines, she’s not sure she can survive.

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For award-winning chef Michael Cimarusti, the man behind fine-dining restaurant Providence and Connie and Ted’s in West Hollywood, he’s already mapping out reconfigured dining rooms with fifty percent fewer tables.

“At Providence, we seat maybe 80 or 90 and we’re looking at doing just over 40 or 50 covers a night. 

At Connie and Ted’s, it’s a much bigger restaurant where we seat every other table in order to give people the space they need.”

Both Nelson and Cimarusti say they’d have no problem outfitting their staff with the necessary PPE to protect customers. They’re willing to do whatever it takes to stay in business in “A New California.”