NIPOMO, Calif. -- Santa Maria Brewing Co. ownership has said it will defy an order from the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department to immediately modify its operations, including closing indoor services.
The business, which operates two locations in Nipomo and Atascadero, said closing indoor operations will be a death blow to the company.
"It's really dicey for us right now," said owner Byron Moles. "If we were forced to shut down right now, we wouldn't be able to reopen, so as a company, we've made a decision that we're going to stay open and try and fight our way through it."
Moles added the company's complied with COVID-19 restrictions last year, and was able to scrape by.
However, another round of indoor restrictions has left ownership with very few options to remain afloat.
"We got together as a group and collectively said, it's kind of our last stance," said Moles. "If we don't stay open, keeping and ABC license intact or keeping a health permit intact is useless. There is no business here to protect at that point."
Should the business fail, Moles said he and many others will lose a lot of money.
"Millions. Literally millions of dollars," said Moles. "We stand to lose collectively as a group, between all the investors, partners, friends and family, $10 to $15 million over the years, to the facility we built in the North County to the locations we put money in and out of."
He also stressed the personal toll a closure would have on his staff, which at one point before the pandemic started, totaled nearly 80 employees.
"Our employees are like family," said Moles. "Their family is our family, so it's not easy to think about who's going to be affected if we don't find a way to make it. It's a very heavy burden right now."
Moles stressed the brewery is doing everything it can to maintain a safe environment.
"Employees are making sure they keep their mask on all the time," said Moles. "Everything is wiped down every time it's touched. All of our condiments are are one-time uses and ready to go. The employees are doing a phenomenal job, front the front of the house to the back of the house, everything is re-sanitized every day, tables are wiped down, chairs are wiped down after every use. We're monitoring the bathrooms more than we ever have and making sure that anything that someone would touch is re-wiped."
Customers agree the business is being proactive in observing safety measures.
"The staff and ownership takes every precaution to make sure that we feel safe," said Derek Seaman of Nipomo. "They are always masked up and sanitizing regularly. I feel safe coming here, and I know my family and friends do as well,
Earlier in the week, Public Health order Santa Maria Brewing to immediately close operations other than takeout services, require all employees wear masks on the premises, and require all patron wear masks.
The order, which was posted on the Santa Maria Brewing Co. Facebook page, said is was being issued based on numerous complaints and photographs that depict the listed violations.
It added the violations are a "menace to public health, constitutes a public nuisance, and is punishable by court action, fine, imprisonment, or both."
"I'm ready to get drug away if I have to get drug away," said Moles. "I'm not closing down until they take us out of here."