Carpinteria diners step out for Sunday brunch
Carpinteria took a step towards normalcy on Sunday morning by turning out to support their favorite breakfast and brunch spots.
The crowds at Carpinteria State Beach were smaller than usual for Memorial Day weekend, and beachgoers appeared to maintain social distance between groups. However, visitors came from everywhere from Los Angeles to Utah.
The Worker Bee Cafe is located at 973 Linden Ave., just a short walk from the water. Owner Rick Mancilla’s business was open for its Sunday dine-in breakfast at 7:30 a.m. for the first time since Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a mandatory stay home order on March 19.
State officials allowed Santa Barbara County restaurants to reopen dine-in service on Thursday.
Leland Keel of Los Angeles was the first diner in the restaurant, but several more trickled in as he sat at his table with a coffee and his journal.
“I write a lot in my journal and so the experience of eating in one’s car and writing in a journal in one’s car versus being able to sit at a table is sort of a return to civilization. It’s cautiously optimistic,” Mr. Keel said. He works at an outpatient community mental health facility and said that he had been working throughout the coronavirus outbreak.
“It’s delightful to come up here — I’m from LA. I’ve heard signs of things opening a little bit. I wasn’t expecting to do anything but get a takeout order, but when they offered me a table, it was like Christmas,” Mr. Keel said.
Mr. Mancilla said he had been able to rehire two employees he laid off during the state’s mandatory dining room closure.
“It’s been busy and good. We were never shut down; we were always doing takeout. Relative to the economy and everything, we’ve done well. We’re hanging in there. We’ve got the doors open, and we haven’t had to shutter them so I’m happy about that. Yes, it could be better, but I’m not complaining,” Mr. Mancilla said.
He added that he is grateful to welcome his regular customers and new visitors back into the dining room.
“They’re ecstatic, they are so happy. People like to come in here and yap with me. I’m a yapper. They’re just happy to be here,” Mr. Mancilla said.
He added that he is working to bring more staff back into the business, but income is lower than usual for this time of year.
“When we were doing takeout, we had a skeleton crew. I have to be careful with my budgeting, the funds aren’t what they used to be,” Mr. Mancilla said.
Right now, his business is 50% dine-in and 50% takeout.
“It’s wonderful … Everyone wanted to get out, but we have to be careful with how we open up,” Mr. Mancilla said.
Nearby at Jack’s Bistro & Famous Bagels, 5050 Carpinteria Ave., #2047, families enjoyed their brunch on patio tables outside the restaurant.
Ruby and William Young took their children out for a relaxing brunch before they set out for a bike ride, then a hike later Sunday afternoon.
“We’ve been coming here as long as it’s been open, pretty much. It’s lovely, and the kids need it,” Mrs. Young said.
Mr. Young added that it felt liberating to have the freedom to go outside and enjoy a meal with his family.
“To be able to do what we’re supposed to do. To have freedom without anyone telling us what to do, it feels amazing,” Mr. Young said.
Eryn Orsburn added that it felt good to be out in the sun eating with her family and “feeling the community,” around her.
“I love it. I’m embracing it thoroughly. It’s a bit of fresh air in my life,” said Vicki Faulk as she sat with her parents Joan and Darrell Johnston. Mr. Johnston recently celebrated his 90th birthday.
“It’s wonderful to see the blue sky, the birds and the green trees and to feel like you’re alive again,” added Mrs. Johnston.
Corktree Cellars owner Jessica Clark said she is working on bringing back staff that she had to let go during the dining room closure.
“We were just able to open for full service on Friday. Next week we’ll have a proper schedule so that we can give them a heads up. So far, the customer feedback has been great. They’ve been really respectful of the guidelines and are thankful we’re keeping everything as safe and sanitary as possible,” Ms. Clark said during Sunday afternoon lunch service.
She added that her restaurant, at 910 Linden Ave., can seat 60% of its dining room capacity and 70% of its patio capacity.
Dan Collier, owner of the Pizza Man Dan’s Pizza chain, said his Carpinteria restaurant has been busier than his other locations in Ventura, Oxnard and Moorpark.
“We were able to get our restaurants back open on Friday with the social distancing and other criteria in place. Carpinteria was better than any other restaurant. The advantage there is we have the types of doors where you can open up the whole restaurant and that may have made people feel more confident,” Mr. Collier said.
He added that a $9.99 takeout special has helped keep business steady enough to prevent layoffs.
“We committed to selling a large one item pizza for $9.99 for carry out only. I’ve been in the business for 30 years. I don’t think I’ve seen that price in 20 years. We were able to keep our employees working with no layoffs, and in fact, we’ve been hiring during this time.”