SAN CLEMENTE (CBSLA) — There was a long line at Nomads Canteen in San Clemente Thursday as the restaurant opened again, despite shutdown orders, after running out of food and beverage over the weekend.
“We’re doing the best we can,” said owner Jeff Gourley. “The first weekend we got run over. We had a protest. When they came here they were not going to social distance, they were not going to wear masks, they’re not doing any of that, and we weren’t ready for that.”
“You can see today we’ve got three security guys and two waitresses, so that tells you how difficult this is,” he said.
Almost immediately after Nomads Canteen opened Thursday, people started to form a line out front because the owner was only able to fill about 40 percent of his seats.
Patrons waited about 30 to 45 minutes to get in.
“We’ve been barbecuing at someone’s house. It’s nice to get out and be around other people and eat something for a change,” said one diner.
Officials said a miscommunication between the Orange County Health Department and the Board of Supervisors resulted in the owner getting a warning violation, which has now been rescinded.
Gourley said he’s doing all within his power to follow the county’s new business guidelines in order to reopen safely.
“Our employees are wearing face coverings when they are within six feet from customers, and they are cycling in and out of their gloves when they are bussing and delivery. We are sterilizing everything from the pens they to the menus,” he said.
“I wanted to come down and have lunch and support him because I think people have to start stepping up and say, ‘no more,” said another diner.
Gourley said he loves the support, but he’s also heard from the other side.
“I’ve got people who want to burn me down and people who want me to run for governor,” he said.
While residents are flocking to Nomads, the manager of a burger place in the area fears that one restaurant’s defiance of the statewide orders could postpone reopening for everyone else.
“If people keep getting affected by the virus, you’re not going to want to reopen everything,” he said.