The pandemic is getting to all of us. Local bars and restaurants, in particular, are struggling as customers act out in response to masking orders and the state requirement that you buy food in order to get alcohol.
On Oct. 24, the police were called to The Doobie Bar after a group of men entered the outdoor bar area, refused to wear masks and behaved antagonistically toward employees when they were refused service. In a Facebook post about the incident, the owners announced the R Street Corridor bar would be closed on Oct. 25 to give staffers the night off “after having to deal with that bullshit.” The post continued: “2020 is hard enough, and we are just trying to put Pina Coladas in peoples hands.”
The same weekend, The Rind had a similar situation with aggressive anti-maskers. Owner Sara Arbabian wrote a lengthy Facebook post about the customers, who “refused to wear a mask, refused to buy food, were rude and gave no tip.”
Under the state’s pandemic rules for bars and restaurants, customers must order food along with alcohol. It makes bar hopping extremely difficult for people who just want to drink. Arbabian said she could incur fines of up to $30,000 by not complying with the regulation. “I get that there are places bending rules,” she wrote, “but I care more for my business, team, and community to outlive COVID than to break rules.”
In her post, she begged customers to wear a mask when they enter her midtown restaurant (which is required by law), and to consider putting the mask on when a server approaches their table (not required, but a thoughtful thing to do). “We want to survive this just as much as you do,” she wrote. “Your cooperation will help us have a fighting chance.” She also implored diners not to berate her staffers—apparently a common occurrence at bars and restaurants in these COVID times.
Arbabian’s post struck a chord with local restaurant and bar folks. Within a few days, the post had received 172 shares and 120 comments. “We stand with you!!!!” wrote Henry de Vere White, co-owner of de Vere’s Irish Pub and a backer of The Doobie Bar. “No mask . . . no dice!!” And Seth Meszaros, a culinary professional who interacts regularly with diners, wrote this: “I was just recently diagnosed with COVID-19 and will now miss two weeks of work and wages. Please be considerate of those who put themselves in harm’s way to provide you with a service, especially these folks who have been a staple of the Sacramento culinary arts for so many years.”