C&C Coffee and Kitchen, a breakfast and Korean kitchen in Castle Rock, Colorado, is facing criticism for allowing the restaurant to become crowded with hundreds of people on Mother's Day, despite the state banning dine-in eating. Servers and customers reportedly did not wear masks, and social distancing was impossible.
Nick Puckett of Colorado Community Media took to Twitter to share a video of the crowded restaurant, which quickly went viral online.
“I expected it to be busy. I never expected this," owner April Arellano told Colorado Community Media. "I'm so happy, so many people came out to support the Constitution and stand up for what is right. We did our time. We did our two weeks. We did more than two weeks… and we were failing. We had to do something.”
Puckett noted that only one patron seemed to be wearing a mask, and C&C Coffee and Kitchen didn't seem to be actively enforcing the CDC guidance to wear a mask when out in public and where social distancing is difficult. The restaurant also flaunted guidance to keep family groups six feet apart.
“No mask, no problem btw,” a since-deleted Facebook by the restaurant post read.
Arellano added: “We in the service industry have been taking precautions for years… We wash and sanitize everything anyway..."
"People are piling into (retailers). So right now, I don't really see the difference. And we're human… I know a lot of things are ran by fear. I don't have that fear."
The restaurant's Twitter account tweeted at President Donald Trump on Saturday, writing: "@realDonaldTrump We are standing for America, small businesses, the Constitution and against the overreach of our governor in Colorado!!"
On Facebook, Puckett wrote that she “would go out of business if I don’t do something.”
A sign posted on the restaurant's door reads: "Attention! Our freedom doesn't end where your fear begins. If you are scared stay at home! If you are afraid to be within 6ft of another person, do not enter this business. God bless America, land of the 'free' and home of the brave."
Most patrons did not seem concerned about the crowded restaurant either.
“(My husband) had asked what I wanted to do for Mother's Day. Since everything is closed down, I said `Well, I really don't know,'” Hannah Nunn said. “Then when (Arellano) posted she was opening for dine-in, I said `That's what I want to do.' We're ready to get back to normal and not being forced to stay home. And take-out does not taste as good.”
"I'm not afraid to be out. I'm not going to wear a mask. I'm healthy. I'm in good shape, and I don't think it's as serious as they say,” Linda Schattilly said. “The communities are being devastated. People are losing everything... They should have never shut anybody down. They should've told all the old ones (people) and all the ones that don't have the right immune systems to stay home and let people do their jobs. People are being devastated.”
Nick Whitehill, who had ordered food for curbside pickup, was shocked by the scene.
“It was unbelievable,” Whitehill told the Denver Post. He said that he left without his food after realizing that workers and patrons weren't wearing masks or practicing social distancing.
Gov. Jared Polis was quick to criticize the restaurant for opening when a state order limits restaurants to takeout and delivery options.
“These restaurants are not only breaking the law, they are endangering the lives of their staff, customers, and community,” Shelby Wieman, Polis’ deputy press secretary, said in a statement, according to KIRO7. “Under Safer at Home, restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses and other similar places of public accommodation offering food or beverage for on-premises consumption are still closed. Delivery and drive-up service is available. Coloradans can contact their local public health department if they believe someone is violating Safer at Home.”
But not all government officials condemned the opening. Patrick Neville, minority leader of the Colorado House, posted a photograph of himself from the restaurant on Sunday. According to the Colorado Independent, Neville "has called on Douglas County to severe ties with the local health department over its COVID-19-related public health orders."
C&C Coffee and Kitchen are now expecting a visit from the Health Department for defying the order. Puckett told Emily Allen of KDVR that 500 customers had shown up on Mother's Day.
Colorado has had over 18,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, along with at least 944 deaths.
The best way to prevent contracting or spreading coronavirus is with thorough hand washing and social distancing. If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, which include persistent cough (usually dry), fever, shortness of breath, and fatigue, please call your doctor before going to get tested. For comprehensive resources and updates, visit the CDC website. If you are experiencing anxiety about the virus, seek out mental health support from your provider or visit NAMI.org.