Restaurant owner opening dine-in service to the public, defying state and local orders

Local News

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) — A Fresno restaurant defying state and local orders is inviting customers to dine-in, despite a mandate allowing take-out only.

Waffle shop in northwest Fresno started sit-down service on Thursday morning.

Ammar Ibrahim, owner of Waffle shop, is opening his doors back up for dine-in services despite a mandate, and the threat of thousands of dollars in fines.

“My decision was to open back up. Take a stand for what I believe in,” Ibrahim said

Offering dine-in services is going against city and state orders allowing restaurants to provide only take-out. But Ibrahim says he’s taking every precaution to invite guests back in.

“We have social distancing every other booth, every other table, which is more than six feet. We do wear the mask, we do wear gloves, we’re wiping down the booths after every single customer giving them time to dry. The cooks cook on the line, they have gloves, there are sanitation buckets all over and throughout the restaurant,” Ibrahim said.

Mark Standriff with the city of Fresno says as of now, it’s out of their hands.

“The state of California has ordered that all restaurant dining rooms be closed and until the state changes their policy we can’t really do anything to help,” Standriff said.

Ibrahim was issued a warning by the city Thursday morning.

Standriff says this will be followed by a $1,000 fine, then $5,000, and finally $10,000 each day he keeps his dining room open.

“I’ll take the punches as they come one by one, I’ll be open tomorrow from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m, Saturday 7 a.m until 2 p.m., Sunday on Mother’s day 7 a.m. until 2 p.m., Ibrahim said.

Standriff says city leaders are working on this issue.

“Mayor Brand, as well as mayors all across the state of California, are doing everything we can to get the governor to allow restaurants to safely reopen,” Standriff said.

Ibrahim says it’s not just his own finances, he’s had to cut 95% of his staff and shut out a community he says depends on them.

“I have one lady that’s been coming every day for three years. She has nobody at home we are her home. The literally depends on us for getting out just to have a conversation with us, a cup of coffee. She’s isolated at home,” Ibrahim said.

On Thursday, Gov. Newsom did say he would be releasing guidelines on how sit-down dining may move forward this Tuesday.

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