A district manager the Chevy's Fresh Mex chain, who's based in Seattle and apparently responsible for the whole West Coast, is being blamed for keeping California Chevy's locations open for dining despite public health orders keeping all other restaurants closed.
In yet another case of failed enforcement that is deeply frustrating mom-and-pop restaurants that are following the rules, a Chevy's in Vallejo has reportedly remained open for outdoor dining since mid-December, when an order from the governor shut down all dining in the Bay Area due to rising COVID cases. As the Mercury News reports, the restaurant was serving customers outdoors all last week, and a manager on duty referred inquiries to the district manager.
Eater picked up the story earlier this week, and the company (or this district manager in Seattle) issued a bullshit-laden statement that essentially says the company is defying the rules because of previous conflicts between state and county health orders. Even though it was abundantly clear that the state shut down all outdoor and indoor dining for the majority of counties during the latest COVID surge that was overwhelming hospitals statewide.
"We are aware of the current order issued by the state," the Chevy's statement said. "There is some conflicting direction between the state, county and city levels as far as what restrictions to follow. Along with some restrictions being lifted in several California counties by overseeing judges. We take the safety of our guests and team very seriously. We are following the safety and sanitation guidelines. We believe our decision to remain open is what is best for our team so they may be able to work and continue to provide for their families. All work that provides support to your family is essential to that family."
Other restaurants in downtown Vallejo are, rightly, pissed that a big corporate restaurant is staying open and not facing any consequences so far. But it sounds like the Solano County health department has just been slow to deal with this. Solano County Supervisor Erin Hannigan said she'd been aware of Chevy's flouting the rules since December 27, and the city of Vallejo is coordinating with the county health department about who's taking responsibility for enforcement.
"If it’s OK for Chevy’s, why isn’t OK for all these small restaurants to open?” said Nicole Hodge, owner of nearby Provisions Cafe, speaking to the Mercury News. “I feel like Chevy’s should be closed and should be fined."
Another similar case in Contra Costa County, involving Danville restaurant Incontro, finally resolved after the new year with the restaurant shutting down. It had remained open for outdoor dining through the holidays, much to neighboring restaurants' anger. And now it reportedly owes thousands of dollars in fines to the county.
Chevy's could end up owing many thousands if these agencies can get around to doing any enforcement. Per the Mercury News, in addition to the Vallejo location being open for dining, locations in Santa Rosa and Fairfield have allegedly been serving diners outdoors as well, in defiance of the state and counties.
In San Mateo County, there's a Chevy's location in South San Francisco that appears to have remained compliant with health orders — although the Google listing for the business seemed to show that "Dine-in" was indeed an option today. Other Chevy's locations in Emerville and Union City are listed as only offering curbside pickup and delivery.
It remains to be seen what, if any, enforcement the chain may face, and perhaps the gamble is that with keeping so many locations open in defiance of the state, they can assume only a couple will get fined? It's not clear how many Chevy's locations have remained open, and it's likely just a matter of weeks before outdoor dining is permitted again in the Bay Area (it's already resumed in the greater Sacramento region as of last week).
Photo: Jamie S./Yelp