05 Aug Jonathan Cartu Stated: Encinitas Restaurant Trying to Follow Rules, Caught in Midd…
While the debate over face
masks rages on, restaurants and small businesses who have to follow the rules or
face shut downs are caught in the middle. Nowhere is this more true than at GOODONYA
Organic Eatery in Encinitas.
The restaurant decided to close its doors before county health leaders forced them to because the wait staff needed a break from angry customers unwilling to comply with the restaurant’s rules.
GOODONYA reopened three weeks ago with table
service in the parking spaces out front. Owner Kris Buchanan’s says policing
the unmasked has been a headache ever since.
“Short of literally hiring a bouncer… You
know, sometimes people just don’t listen to us,” Buchanan said.
Even after moving 11 tables outside, Buchanan and her servers are getting grief from customers who refuse to a wear a mask for the few minutes they are inside to place an order.
“People get frustrated and they feel like their
rights are being taken away when we are just trying to keep everyone healthy,”
said server Mary Jane Hrovat.
Buchanan says the restaurant
is also facing harsh criticism online, including from people on the other side
of the debate. Some have gone as far as posting pictures of unmasked diners
mixed and unmasked pedestrians passing by while criticizing the restaurant’s
efforts to do it’s part.
“You put your heart and soul in your business and
you care so much, so it’s hard to have confrontations like that and see people
so unhappy,” Buchanan explained.
One customer, who doesn’t
feel like masks are necessary, tries to be sympathetic and work around GOODONYA’s
“Try to be sensitive to other people that feel it is important,” customer Rebecca Ramirez said. “I don’t feel like it’s that important to me to always wear a mask.”
There’s no debating that there are strong opinions on both sides. But somewhere in the
middle GOODONYA is trying to keep its staff safe and its doors open for a
future beyond the ill affects COVID-19.
“Just put the mask on and order, then you can take
it off when you sit down,” Hrovat said. “It’s pretty easy and keeps our job easier.
We don’t feel like we are ruining someone’s day.”
GOODONYA’s next step is to
create a less exposed dining experience, something more like an enclosed deck
space, but that will require city approval.
Buchanan also said when
those who are in charge of enforcing the health code don’t cite violators, it’s
more difficult for businesses to police their customers.