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Bakersfield restaurants offer outdoor dining again after months of following state orders

Posted at 2:13 AM, Jan 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-01 11:59:27-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Friday, 23ABC talked to a few restaurants who share that during the entire time of the pandemic they have been following the state's orders and guidance and say they are grateful to have this outdoor option again.

Joe Coughlin is the owner of Coconut Joe's and says like many other businesses, say they have been hit hard.

"I had a concern for employees and our customer's safety. So our employees said we don't want to open inside or outside, so we closed everything," said Coughlin. Coconut Joe's is nestled away off of California Ave.

The restaurant is known for its beach-themed food from salmon and shrimp salads, tri-tips, and more, and for the first time in nearly two months they opened up for outdoor dining.

"That was going to be our driving force --'what do the employees feel comfortable doing?' So, they said they wanted to do patio dining, they would feel comfortable doing that, said Coughlin."

The restaurant tells 23ABC that they are one of the few small businesses left in the Bakersfield Plaza, thanks to the assistance and the community's support.

"I was going to make the decision that we would have to close our doors, but fortunately the stimulus check saved us, but we are still behind the eight ball" added Coughlin.

"I think we can make it another eight-to-nine months if this is how it's going to be," added Coughlin.

Coughlin says that following the orders and ordinances while other restaurants in the area have not have put them at a competitive disadvantage.

He says he understands their decisions but wasn't influenced to not follow the restrictions.

"We were trying to listen to again what the experts and the scientists are saying. We were not looking at it from an economic standpoint and we are losing money every day open. I just want to lay my head on the pillow at night knowing that I made the right decisions, that I could live with later."

Just a few miles away in downtown, Locale Farm to Table restaurant opened their patio up, and also agrees with the difficult decision to follow state orders.

Heather Laganelli, the owner, shares they remained ready to get the "ok" for patio dining.

"With our space, we just prepare like we're gonna have to do it the next day anyway. So everything that we do every day is in preparation for that happening in any given moment," said Laganelli.

Coughlin and Laganelli say they remain optimistic about the future but still face uncertainty managing a restaurant during a pandemic.