- Footage from C&C Coffee and Kitchen on Sunday and Monday showed large crowds of unmasked eaters who weren’t maintaining social distance from each other.
- The state’s restaurants and cafes are limited to “delivery and drive-up service” at least through May 26 to curb the coronavirus’s spread.
- But owner Jesse Arellano is boycotting against these public health orders, arguing the financial ramifications of businesses staying closed are too high.
C&C Coffee and Kitchen was packed with dozens of unmasked customers on Sunday and Monday, flouting Colorado’s coronavirus guidelines that limit restaurants to takeout and delivery services.
The Castle Rock-based business was forced to close after the state’s Department of Public Health and Environment suspended its license.
“Summary suspension actions are immediate and require the restaurant to shut down as soon as they receive the suspension order,” the department said in a statement to Business Insider. “Both agencies may choose to pursue additional legal action if the restaurant owner violates their respective orders. If a business remained open after its license was suspended, the next step would be to get a court order to close the business.”
The issue surfaced after patrons filmed the scene on Mother’s Day, showing people clustered together at tables inside and on the restaurant’s patio. The Denver Post reported that a line extended out the door with people waiting for dine-in service.
Nick Whitehill told the newspaper that he placed an order and arrived at the restaurant expecting curbside pickup. But he was greeted by an “unbelievable” sight of people crammed inside the restaurant and spilling out.
Happy Mother’s Day from C& C in Castle Rock, where the owner said this is almost double a normal Mother’s Day. pic.twitter.com/cPSzjmAfAg
— Nick Puckett (@nick__puckett) May 10, 2020
He put on a mask before going inside to pick up his food, but left despite having paid for it because workers weren’t wearing face coverings either, he told the Post.
“I wasn’t even going to eat the food even if I had gotten it. I walked in, took the picture, and turned right around,” said Whitehill, who complained to the Tri-County Health Department about C&C Coffee and Kitchen’s flagrant violation of Colorado’s public health orders.
People flocked to the restaurant after the health department told it to shut down
A Twitter account for the restaurant declared that it was “standing for America, small businesses, the Constitution and against the overreach of our governor in Colorado!!” by reopening. President Donald Trump was tagged in the post.
One of the restaurant’s owners, April Arellano, also wrote on Facebook that they “would go out of business if I don’t do something” and “if I lose the business at least I’m fighting,” according to the Denver Post.
Arellano added, “We are so behind. We have complied for two months. We cannot make it on $200 per day sales when two staff cost me $250, not counting, food, cost, utilities and rent.”
The Denver Post said Arellano also took a video of the throngs of diners and shared it on Facebook. In it, she said, “So much for some of those people saying nobody would show up. And our patio’s full too. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for this support, guys. I gotta get back to work. Have a great day.”
These Facebook posts appear to have since been deleted.
Social distancing and face masks are required in the state even for delivery and takeout
As of Wednesday, Colorado has more than 20,100 confirmed coronavirus cases and at least 1,010 deaths, based on data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Under its “safer-at-home” guidelines, restaurants are still closed, a spokesperson for the office of Colorado Gov. Jared Polis told the Denver Post. Such establishments aren’t allowed to resume dine-in service until at least May 26.
The spokesperson said “delivery and drive-up service is available” as long as people are wearing face masks and staying at least six feet away from each other to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The owners of C&C Coffee and Kitchen are “not only breaking the law, they are endangering the lives of their staff, customers, and community,” the spokesperson added.
Despite being shut down, controversial posts continue to appear on the restaurant’s Twitter page.
@elonmusk we were shut down by @jaredpolis we are proud to see you stand up for our liberty. Even though we don’t agree on everything, we support your decision. We would proudly own one of your cars if we could afford one 😂
— C&C Coffee and Kitchen (@cccoffeekitchen) May 13, 2020
‘Everyone’s going to get sick, some people will die. It’s just life.’
Even though the Order of Summary Suspension was delivered on Monday, C&C Coffee and Kitchen stayed open — and was again packed. The economics of this decision are front and center, co-owner Jesse Arellano said. The restaurant has since closed.
“We need to start doing something about this before we all crash and burn,” he told KCNC-TV. “I know there’s a lot of restaurants here shutting their doors. We’re losing a lot of our very small, interesting cultural restaurants. We’re losing all those.”
Arellano plans to review the order with his attorney to determine if its constitutional, KCNC-TV reported.
“Everyone’s going to get sick, some people will die. It’s just life. You know it’s horrible, but it’s just life,” he said.
This story has been trending on social media and people have reacted with disbelief and anger.
Christopher Koulouris asked on Facebook, “Freedom at what cost?”
And on Twitter, Chris Estes wrote, “All I keep thinking is that if they don’t follow this health department order, how do I trust they follow any other health department guidelines? Yuck.”
C&C opened again today after the health department issued them an order to close https://t.co/oFXwdA2uTh
— Nick Puckett (@nick__puckett) May 11, 2020
Seriously, Nick: This is a straight-up, undoctored video *from today*, May 10, 2020, in Colorado, in the middle of a global pandemic? Like, no BS?
— Ari Armstrong (@ariarmstrong) May 10, 2020
Jesse and April Arellano did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
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