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El Dorado County restaurant reopening Friday, defying California's stay-at-home order

For Jack Boger, the manager at Cafe El Dordado, abiding by the governor's order means potentially losing his business. "It's a matter of survival," Boger told ABC10.

EL DORADO COUNTY, Calif. — El Dorado County's stay-at-home orders to slow coronavirus spread will expire at midnight on Thursday night, becoming the first county in state to do so, along with Modoc County. But that doesn't mean that everything can reopen.

Despite counties letting their own shelter in place orders expire, residents would still have one order to listen to — Gov. Gavin Newsom's, which is still in effect with no concrete date of lifting.

But for Jack Boger, the manager at Cafe El Dordado, abiding by the governor's order means potentially losing his business.

"It's a matter of survival," Boger told ABC10.

While Cafe El Dorado has remained open for to-go orders only for more than six weeks, Boger said the restaurant has lost at least 85% of its revenue from closing the dining room.

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Recently, El Dorado County extended its travel ban indefinitely into the El Dorado County portion of Lake Tahoe, because of the potential strain the influx of people could cause on their small healthcare system that only has one hospital.

That means fewer travelers for Boger.

"Landlord still wants his rent, the state still wants their money, power company wants their money," Boger explained. "Everyone still wants their money, but the income is just not there. So we've got to generate the income."

On Friday, one day after the county's order expires, Boger said he is fully reopening the restaurant, inviting his regulars — most of which, he says, are elderly — and anyone who wants a warm sit-down meal.

He's not requiring masks, because "I'm not personally going to wear one," he said.

Boger said their tables are about four feet apart already, but he will provide social distancing upon request, openly defying Governor Gavin Newsom's statewide stay-at-home order.

"I don't agree with the continued stay at home orders and the closures," he said.

RELATED: Small business owners' dilemma amid coronavirus pandemic: defy state orders, or lose it all

Carla Hass, a spokesperson for El Dorado County, said the reopening is "clearly" violating the state's orders.

"Our approach in the county has always been, and remains, talking to people and educating them about what they should and shouldn't be doing and hopefully getting them to comply with those sorts of methods," Hass said.

As for Boger, he says he has a plan in place if officials try to enforce the orders. But in the meantime, he's looking forward to seeing many familiar faces.

"Oh, it's going to be exciting," Boger said. "I haven't seen some of them in almost two months."

Follow the conversation on Facebook with Lena Howland.


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