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Ontario business owners concerned after Oregon restaurants ordered to close in-restaurant dining

For the next month, Oregon restaurants can only do takeout orders or deliveries.
Credit: KTVB
Mackey's Steakhouse and Pub in Ontario, Oregon.

ONTARIO, Ore. — Across the nation, some states are taking extreme measures in hopes of stopping the spread of coronavirus. On Monday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown ordered restaurants to stop inside dining.

“It's hard, as a business owner I want to make sure they have some place to come back to, but at the same time having to cut that many households off from their income, it's pretty overwhelming,” said Angena Grove, the owner of Mackey’s Steakhouse and Pub in Ontario. 

She, along with hundreds of other businesses in Oregon, have had to close their doors to customers. 

“We normally have probably about two percent of takeout, so it's very impactful for us right now,” Grove said. 

While restaurants can’t serve people in house, they can still do takeout orders or deliveries. 

For Grove though, Monday's order from Oregon's governor meant she had to lay off more than a dozen of her employees, something she says was extra difficult because her workers are like family. 

“This is everybody's livelihood,” Grove said. “I immediately was trying to make sure that my staff had all the information they need so they can start unemployment.” 

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Down the street, David Sullivan shut down his bar Kanpai and is preparing to shut down his other restaurant, Rusty's Pancake and Steakhouse.

“We don’t ever close, we are openly 365 days a year here, so this is a real shock to us,” Sullivan said. “It's been just kind of, reacting to it and hopefully I can do stuff and help my employees out so that they can live and get ready to come back hopefully in a month. If it goes beyond a month, it's going to be a real mess.”

Like Grove, his main concern right now are his employees. 

“It's tough they live paycheck to paycheck and I know even providing some assistance from the state is going to be tough because of the time and I’ve been trying to get a hold of the state about how we can move things along, but everything is over the telephone and everything is jammed up, I know everything is just in a state of chaos right now,” Sullivan said.

Tom Huston owns Ogawa's Wicked Sushi, Burgers and Bowls. Like other restaurants, he's had to make cuts.

“We've had to cut our staff way back, we're running about 50 percent staff right now,” Huston said. “But we can continue to serve our customers with to go orders and I think we'll be alright if it doesn't last more than six to eight weeks.” 

Gov. Brown’s order is expected to last at least a month.

“This is a time for kindness and support not a time for any kind of panic,” Grove said. “I think that's one thing we've seen in different tragedies and that Americans are probably best known for is being able to pull together and I think this is one of those times.”

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