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Riverside County Officials Won’t Enforce State Order to Keep Restaurants Closed

The Original Pancake house in Norco opened over the weekend in defiance of Gov. Newsom’s no-dining-in mandate

Grain pancake from Orsa & Winston.
Orsa & Winston [Official photo]
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

A Riverside County restaurant is the latest to defy statewide orders to close dining rooms to customers, ABC7 has learned. The Original Pancake House in Norco, California, about fifty miles east of Downtown Los Angeles, opened for breakfast and lunch over the weekend, and saw a wave of customers eager to eat inside.

The Original Pancake House is just the latest in a growing set of Southern California examples of restaurants refusing to follow governor Gavin Newsom’s mandates, which require dining rooms to be closed for service. Restaurants can of course continue to offer delivery and takeout, as they have for the past two months, but some owners say the loss in revenue and staff had pushed them to defy the statewide closure order just to try to stay in business. Other restaurants include Nomad’s Canteen in Orange County, and Crazy Otto’s, another breakfast spot up north in Valencia.

What makes the Original Pancake House issue so interesting is the county itself. Riverside officials, including the sheriff, have said publicly that they will not enforce Newsom’s orders, though they will also not impede any state authorities who step in to shut down businesses flouting the rules, either by force or by revocation of state-held licenses.

It’s unclear when Newsom will give the official go-ahead for certain counties to reopen their restaurant dining rooms, though a decision is likely to come in the next few weeks, if not sooner. Meanwhile, the governor’s office has outlined a number of guidelines for restaurants to use when reopening, including details on sanitizing, physical distancing, and more.