As the possibility of a move to a more restrictive tier
looms over the region, some small businesses in San Diego have announced a
movement to defy state health orders if more restrictions are in place – and they
are encouraging others to do the same.
A banner on Rudford’s Restaurant in North Park isn’t simply for decoration, but a call to action. As many small businesses look at what could be yet another step backward due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, the North Park eatery is one of many that are trying to survive the difficult times.
Rudford’s has been on El Cajon Boulevard for 71 years and
its general manager, Nick Kacha, said the last six months have been the
toughest on the business and customers.
“I feel like we’re doing everything correct and we are being
put on the chopping block,” Kacha told NBC 7. “I just don’t think it is
In an effort to gain more customers, Kacha built a 20-table
back patio and placed plexiglass dividers between booths inside. He said he bought
masks, gloves, and disinfecting chemicals. However, the sign he bought to hang above
the front door may be the best protection against shuttering his eatery.
Just above the restaurant’s entry rests a large sign that reads, “Stand Up Small Business! #Defy.”
“The sign is just telling small businesses to stand up,” Kacha
The sign is part of a bigger movement happening among small
businesses in San Diego. Kacha said at least a dozen other local businesses are
refusing to shut their doors if state health code restrictions are rolled back.
“We don’t want to make it political at all, we just want
them to really sit down and take a look at what is going on and let businesses
be open,” he said.
Tootie Thomas, the executive director of the Boulevard Business
Improvement Association, understands what Kacha is going through since Thomas
is also the owner of Lips Restaurant, which is just a block away from Rudford’s.
“I trust Nick and the years they have had on the boulevard
to do what’s right for the business,” Thomas said.
Although the business association works within state
guidelines, Thomas sympathizes with the small businesses struggling with the
“It hurts our employees, it hurts our economy, it hurts our
business community and it hurts our neighborhoods,” Thomas said.
Kacha recognizes the seriousness of spreading coronavirus.
His employees are masked and gloved, their temperatures are checked before work
and their stations are disinfected after every table turn.
“For us, I think we are choosing to defy because that’s what
we have to do to survive,” he said.
Rudford’s Restaurant is typically a 24-hour operation. So when
the state ordered that restaurants could operate with take-out only, the eatery
put locks on the doors for the first time.
It was an emotional defeat for the restaurant’s owners, but
they’ve fought to keep their doors open for decades and said they are not stopping