SAN DIEGO – The owner of The Village restaurant in North Park is making her case to keep outdoor dining alive amid the state’s regional stay-at-home order.
In an Instagram post, Alondra Ruiz argues that restaurants should be allowed to serve customers outside — as her restaurant continues to — despite the recent order restricting both indoor and outdoor dining.
The video quickly topped 100,000 views, drawing in more than 1,500 comments with a range of viewpoints both in support of and critical of her commentary.
“Trust me, it wasn’t an easy choice because I know a lot of people don’t agree,” Ruiz said, “but it was inconsistent of some businesses being open and others being closed.”
The plant-based, vegan Mexican and Japanese-style eatery opened this year a few months before the first wave of pandemic shutdowns.
For Ruiz, offering only carry-out service means laying off staff right before the holidays.
“We feel crushed,” she said. “We were allowed to go outside. We spend money on making the outside for the customers and just a couple months later to be shut down again. We’re trying to do the right thing but at this point a lot of businesses are just trying to survive or they’re going to lose their business.”
The video has brought The Village some customer support. They’ve also experienced opposition from those who say the shutdown measures are needed as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to surge in San Diego County and in much of the state.
“It’s a natural human feeling to feel when you go against the current but I don’t believe I’m doing anything wrong or anything illegal,” Ruiz said. “My customers order inside and eat their takeout.”
Customers such as Nancy Sussman wouldn’t even find themselves at a plant-based restaurant on most days. But Sussman said it’s important to support restaurant owners who are safely open for service.
“There’s no proof that closing this business will do anything to help the virus,” Sussman said. “It’s arbitrary and capricious and we wanted to show support for her.”