UPDATE: The Ferndale Chamber of Commerce’s Lisa Slater responded to the Journal over the phone, saying, “It was a complete misunderstanding” and she takes full responsibility for mistakenly informing restaurant owners that patio dining was currently allowed under Humboldt County’s current shelter-in-place order. “I was under the impression by miscommunication that it was OK to start outdoor dining,” said Slater, who owns Main Street Squeeze Juice and Smoothie. She said she’ll be sharing information about the county’s compliance signs with other businesses and that her own business has been providing only curbside service with call-in orders. “The whole purpose of my store is to make people healthy,” said Slater, “so I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize that.”
The post on the Tuyas Facebook page announced, “It’s a beautiful day come enjoy a full dining experience on our outside tables at Tuyas.” It was a tempting idea but not yet allowed under Humboldt County’s current shelter-in-place order.
Over the phone, owner Glory Lagielski said she was told by the Ferndale Chamber of Commerce that she could use the pair of café tables outside her Mexican restaurant for dine-in service — plates, silverware and all — so long as they were placed 6 feet apart. It just wasn’t the case. (Attempts to contact the chamber have been unsuccessful.)
Lagielski, who just submitted her plan for eventual dine-in service safety through the county's online portal, says staff is wearing masks and will be screened for fever at the beginning of their shifts “as soon as our thermometer arrives.” (It’s been on order for weeks, she says.) But even when the county moves to allow dine-in service, those plans will first have to be approved. An hour and a half later, dine-in service had been called off.
Tuyas has been serving takeout and curbside since shelter in place began but, like many restaurants, it’s struggling. Lagielski says business has been down to around 45 percent of normal and while the restaurant has been able to retain its full kitchen staff, it had to cut from the front of the house.
Down the street, Ferndale Pizza Co. was also preparing to run its first patio service since shelter in place began. The restaurant had been operating with only takeout and, according to owner Laurie Wortman, would have stuck to that. But just this morning she says she was told by her health inspector that patio seating 6 feet apart would be fine. Wortman was surprised to hear that wasn’t the case and explained the she and her staff are “not trying to be rebels,” and simply going with what they were told, and that they'd never have considered dine-in service without permission. Within the hour, the Ferndale Police department showed up regarding a compliance complaint and confirmed that dine-in service is not yet allowed. Wortman says she was happy to comply.