Restaurants remain open for dine-in, some El Pasoans want to keep eating out

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Restaurants are still open for dine-in despite the County urging El Pasoans to stay home and imposing a curfew. Some still want to go out and support their local restaurants.

L&J Café is one of the oldest restaurants in El Paso, opening its doors in 1927 it has survived Wold War II, the Great Depression and, now, the pandemic.

Leo Duran, owner of L&J said they have been operating at 50-percent capacity with reduced worked hours ever since they reopened in June.

They imposed these stricter policies upon themselves before the orders from the county and City to give their customers a sense of safety.

“It is so important to build that trust and make sure that the customer feels comfortable,” said Duran.

L&J has been taking temperature of every guest that enters the restaurant and have been heavily disinfecting. Duran said he feels confident in the safety of his restaurant because they are putting sanitation and safety precautions before anything else.

But he recognized the business has been gradually declining.

“Our biggest concern, obviously, is that customers will adhere to the orders,” said Duran, explaining they are ready to shut down if needed, but he hopes they will be able to get the support from the community that they need.

“We need financial support from the state and the Congress and right now they seem to forget that there are people out there that need it,” said Duran.

He said they had to cut down their workforce to 40 from more than 100 employees to stay afloat and keep the safety standards high. But still, he said, they struggle with finances.

He explained they have been a big part of the community for years, donating to various organizations and giving back, but now they need the community to help them.

“We try to go to places where there are not that many people or if we see that it’s like a bar or something, we won’t go in,” said Mary Briseno, one of the guests at L&J’s. She explained she is being more careful when choosing where to eat and and usually goes to the restaurants earlier, when there is not that many people.

” I don’t see too big of an issue with going out every once in a while,” said Loren Duran, another guest, but she emphasized it is important to take all the precautions and not go out often, just occasionally.

El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego announced this new order, including the curfew, is supposed to help both the local health care system and the economy by keeping businesses still open.

Even though the restrictions posed by the city and county are still facing criticism.

“We really can’t continue to send these mixed messages. People stay home, but restaurants and bars and non-essential places are still open for you to go. It’s very confusing,” said County Commissioner David Stout.

L&J’s owner Duran said they will keep working until they can.

“We’re weathering the storm and we’re doing the best we can and we feel strong and confident that we will survive this,” said Duran.

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