Tale of 2 cities: Pasadena restaurants can remain open as nearby communities brace for outdoor dining ban

Peggy Simonian says, “I’ve had so much anxiety. And so much sleepless nights.”

Simonian owns three restaurants. Two in Pasadena and one in Sierra Madre. This community is bound by the decisions of Los Angeles County, which is restricting dining at restaurants, wineries and bars for the next few weeks starting Wednesday.

That’s like a stab in the heart for Simonian’s Sierra Madre business.

She says, “This is my bread and butter. I need this to pay my bills also. Everyone seems to think the owners of restaurants have deep pockets… we don’t.”


Moreover, she says, “If you can’t pay the rent, you can’t pay the bill. I am in a lot of debt right now. Not through any fault of my own (and) not because I have a failing business.”

Under LA County’s new COVID-19 restrictions, she’ll only be able to have takeout for the next few weeks in Sierra Madre. Her two Pasadena restaurants will be able to function because Pasadena city officials have decided not to close outside dining areas like the rest of the county.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Pasadena city leaders agree to not shut down restaurants like Los Angeles County

Michillinda Avenue is the boundary between Sierra Madre and Pasadena. On the Pasadena side, there are those feeling sadness for what others in surrounding communities are having to confront.

Raffi’s is on the border.

Sarine, who works there, says, “It's really sad because, I mean, we’re kind of like neighbors with everybody. it’s very very upsetting that we get to and they don’t really get to. Very sad.”

Back across the border at Lucky Baldwins restaurant manager Lisa Brandley says,

“The whole thing is unreal to me.” She worries about her workers who will likely be furloughed. She says, “People will definitely lose their job. We have a back of the house staff and they will not longer be working. Our busboys, dishwashers.. they will no longer have jobs during this and they have families.”

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