Edward Smith">

Madera is the only Central Valley county allowed to have open dining rooms, such as the Sal's Mexican restaurant with socially distant tables and partitions between booths. Image via Sal's

published on July 2, 2020 - 6:10 PM
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The rest of the Central Valley may be closed, but Madera wineries and restaurants are still open for business. Like any other businesses of that type, they rely on foot traffic to stay afloat. But at the same time, some fear people from outside Madera County may come in and bring Covid-19 with them.

Restaurateurs are responding by ensuring they are doing everything they can to stave off infection.

Madera Wine Trail announced that many of the tasting rooms at its wineries are accepting customers, though precautions are being taken for guests.

Brianna Post with Fasi Estate Winery said that the tasting room is their bread and butter. They only produce roughly 3,000 cases a year and without wholesale, they need patrons coming in to purchase bottles.

“If we were to be closed to our tasting patrons, it would affect us in a dramatic way,” Post said.

For those reasons, they are taking the recommended steps of wearing masks and asking customers to wear masks upon arrival.

In the restaurant world, workers told Lorraine Salazar, owner of Sal’s Mexican Restaurant, they were worried about people coming to Madera to eat in their dining room.

Business has returned to 85-90% of normal at their Madera location, and Salazar said it is a regular stop for people coming through the area.

Salazar assured those workers they have taken all the precautions. They have movable tables to create social distancing and installed glass partitions between booths.

Some guests have asked why masks were required. Salazar explained that even though they have restaurants in two different counties and three different cities, they were going to follow the safest protocol.

“We’re very fortunate that Madera County is still open, but my concern is that if numbers spike, how long will it be before dine-in shuts down again?” Salazar said.

She feels that, as an industry, restaurants have suffered because of the negligence of other industries and behaviors.

The Fresno restaurant still has its patio open for dine-in and tables were full Wednesday night, said Salazar. Both Selma and Fresno are still doing curbside pickup as well as takeout.

Counties that were on the Covid-19 watch list for three consecutive days were shut down. And some fear this won’t be the last order.

“For many things, Madera follows suit with Fresno and that’s a big, dark shadow following us,” said Post.

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