Setting the table for success?

State eases restrictions, restaurants open for indoor service


The state Department of Public Health announced earlier this week that Orange County restaurants can open indoor dining — under tight restrictions.

Some Seal Beach restaurants opened within hours of the announcement.

“We got the news today and we’re open,” said Jacquie Osgood, a bartender at Coach’s Sports Grill. “We’re open for 25 percent capacity.”

O’Malley’s on Main and others also shifted to high gear and opened indoor dining in fewer than 24 hours.

“We are set up now… we’ll be ready to go tomorrow (Wednesday, Sept. 9),” said Sean Byrne, manager of O’Malley’s.

State officials issued guidelines on Tuesday, Sept. 8 that allow county restaurants to open indoor dining at 25 percent capacity, along with other regulations. The state declared Orange County had moved from red tier to purple tier, meaning it’s improving its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Governor Gavin Newsom has implemented a four-tier, color-coded system for tracking COVID-19 trends. The four tiers are purple, red, orange and yellow. Purple is the most dangerous, yellow the most safe. The state grades counties on a number of criteria, including new infection rates, test positivity rates and hospitalizations.

As of Sept. 8, Seal Beach had reported 261 COVID-19 cases, according to the county Health Care Agency. Orange County had seen 49,996 infections and 1,056 deaths. Two hundred and forty two people were hospitalized, as well.

Data inconsistencies between the county Health Care Agency and the state have caused confusion, and some hesitancy among business owners, some of whom say the start-stop-start process has been extremely difficult.

“They’re looking for some measure of certainty,” said Seal Beach Chamber of Commerce President Kori DeLeon, in an earlier conversation with The Sun.

Restaurants engineered for quick takeout have struggled a bit less during the pandemic than eateries that rely on indoor dining.

Rob Jahncke, owner of Javatinis Espresso on Main, said he will likely open indoor dining — three or four tables — by this weekend, but customers typically get their coffee to go, and they can get it at Javatinis with minimal contact. Also, he said, many people can’t go on vacations, so they stay local and get their coffee in Seal Beach.

“I’m blessed to have a coffee shop,” he said. Business-wise, he said he’s “pretty close to what we did last year.”

Nick Zampino, owner of Nick’s Deli on Main Street and Nick’s Deli II in Los Alamitos, said his businesses are at about 70 percent revenue compared with pre-COVID times.

Charo Chicken is similarly built, with two indoor tables (and four outside).

Manager Manuel Bernal said he was waiting to hear from his supervisor about reopening indoor dining, but, meantime, the popular eatery on Main Street is doing a brisk business.

“We’re so thankful for the local support we’ve gotten,” Bernal said.

Orange County will have to stay at red tier for at least three weeks before being allowed to reopen more businesses, as long as it improves to orange or yellow tier.

For more information on state regulations and the reopening process for businesses, visit