A Castle Rock restaurant reopened its doors to full dine-in service May 10, allowing dozens of customers inside despite public health orders put in place in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
C&C Coffee and Kitchen, a breakfast and Korean kitchen at 4284 Trail Boss Drive, had a line out the door about 10 a.m. Mother's Day. Families of all sizes filed in past a “bouncer” with a visible sidearm. Every seat was taken as folks dined in. The floor was packed with people standing, waiting for coffee or take-out orders. One person could be seen wearing a mask inside the building.
“I expected it to be busy. I never expected this," owner April Arellano said. "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.”
Arellano posted on Facebook stating the Castle Rock Police Department notified the Tri-County Health Department of the violation of Colorado Order 20-24, stating all restaurants must cease dine-in service until at least May 31.
“No mask no problem btw,” the Facebook post reads.
Arellano said she was not concerned at all by the fact no customers wore masks or chose to social distance themselves. Arellano said she did not believe the crowd of people in her business was a public health hazard.
“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."
Arellano is the latest restaurateur to reopen her doors to dine-in service against statewide public health orders. A Centennial business, Waters Edge Winery and Bistro, reopened May 1. The Tri-County Health Department ordered Waters Edge to close before the restaurant agreed to abide by the order a week later.
Tri-County Health stated it has received four complaints regarding C&C's reopening May 10. Spokesperson Becky O'Guin released a statement on behalf of the health department:
"We are disappointed that C&C Breakfast & Korean Kitchen, a Cookies and Crema Company in Castle Rock, has decided to ignore the Governor’s Safer at Home order and open up today with no attention to social distancing. This decision runs the risk of undermining the impact that other Douglas County businesses and residents have achieved over the last seven weeks by taking various social distancing measures. As the entity charged with enforcing the Governor’s statewide Safer at Home Public Health Order, we will follow up with this restaurant to ensure that they, like other restaurants in the county, take appropriate steps to protect the public health, by limiting service to curbside and take-out service."
Those patronizing the restaurant May 10, for the most part, did not feel concerned with wearing a mask or social distancing. Many came out to support Arellano specifically, believing she is taking a stand for what they believe is right.
“(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,'” said Hannah Nunn. “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.”
Linda Schattilly visited C&C May 10 because she felt she needed to support a business defiantly opening.
“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,” 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.”
The crowds at the cafe drew the attention of Gov. Jared Polis' office on May 10.
“These restaurants are not only breaking the law, they are endangering the lives of their staff, customers, and community," a statement from a spokesperson for the governor said.