• By The Financial District


The Sacramento Region Restaurants Association is asking the state for indoor dining exceptions when the air quality is unhealthy, according to a report from KCRA 3 News.

The association represents six counties surrounding Sacramento and is asking for a public health exception to allow for 50% capacity indoor dining that is social distanced with enhanced safety protocols if the AQI goes above 150—which is considered unhealthy for all groups.

“Many restaurants have gone out of business and a lot of them—with the expiration of PPP, with the continuation of the coronavirus crisis and now with the fires and the smoke—are really on death’s door,” CEO Joshua Wood, with the association, said. “There should be some type of allowances put into place to allow restaurants to be able to operate indoors. Because the reality is this is a crisis that is not going away.”

The Shack in East Sacramento has been a neighborhood hangout with the current owners for 16 years. In the past six months, they’ve reduced staffing from 26 to nine employees—of which two are the owners. They’ve also reduced hours they are open to balance costs.

“We have already gone through our PPP. So, we’re on our own,” Christopher Fairman, with The Shack, said. “The smoke has really affected us—and myself personally, I have asthma. So, we’ve had to close four times in the last month due to the smoke or heat.”

PPP is the Paycheck Protection Program, which was coronavirus funding relief for businesses impacted by the shutdown and operating restrictions.

Six months into restrictions, just breaking even is a rare blessing.

“When you look at the economics of a restaurant and say you can be open at 10% occupancy, at 25% occupancy, you’re operating at a loss,” Amanda Blackwood with the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce explained. “Maybe even at 80% occupancy you’re operating at a loss.”

Queen Sheba is a beloved Ethiopian restaurant in Sacramento. At this time only curbside is an option. Owner Zion Taddese is constantly finding new ways to stay resilient and optimistic.

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