Can we eat out?

Photo courtesy of Nobby’s Nobby’s cheeseburgers, fries and more are available for curbside pickup.

One week into home isolation during the coronavirus pandemic, you’re tired of eating canned chili in your pajamas. Time to call on your favorite local eatery and get something good to eat. As of press deadline, that’s still an option in Chico/California, but there are restrictions.

On Monday (March 16), one day after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that bars and nightclubs would have to close, he made the same declaration for dining-in at restaurants. According to the latest coronavirus guidance from the California Department of Public Health, “restaurants should be closed for in-restaurant seated dining, and should be open only to drive-through or other pick-up/delivery options.”

This follows the previous state recommendation that restaurants cut occupancy in half and rearrange seating to allow for social distancing. At press time, many Chico establishments—Tackle Box Bar & Grill, Unwined Kitchen & Bar, Upper Crust Bakery & Cafe, and Cafe Coda, to name a few—still were allowing customers to dine-in, operating under that former guideline.

When the situation inevitably changes, many places plan to continue offering food to-go and for delivery (usually via an outside service like Grubhub, Entree Express or FoodJets). And many restaurants are adding curbside takeout, which comes with the double advantage of being able to pay ahead by card (avoiding a physical exchange) and not having to go into the enclosed space of the restaurant.

La Hacienda in north Chico has always had curbside pickup in its parking lot, and it just rolled out a generous enticement: Take a photo of yourself picking up your order of Mexican food, post it to Facebook, tag the restaurant, and get $20 off your next visit.

Additionally, Red Tavern is offering curbside pickup from a discounted to-go menu—everything from a Red Tavern bacon burger ($14) to a grilled Allen Brothers filet mignon with asparagus, au gratin potatoes and Gorgonzola cream drizzle ($29). A note on the restaurant’s website (redtavern.com) reads: “Our goal is not to make money off of this situation; it is simply to stay in business and to continue paying our amazing employees.”

Others that have added curbside service include Bacio, Tender Loving Coffee, Nobby’s, Burban Kitchen, Fresh Twisted Cafe, Italian Cottage, Sicilian Cafe and the new Pizza Riot. There likely are more—check social media pages or ask when you call and order.

Food trucks still are allowed to operate, under the same mandate as brick-and-mortars to “increase frequency of cleaning and sanitizing,” among other requirements. Locally, Drunken Dumpling, Truckaroni, Chicobi’s and The Lamb & The Wolf are active and posting their whereabouts on Facebook.

And even though the debut of the Thursday Night Market has been postponed until April 16, the regular weekly Chico Certified Farmers’ Markets are still happening—both Wednesday, 8 a.m.-1 pm., at North Valley Plaza, and Saturday, 7:30 a.m.-1 p.m., in the parking lot at Second and Wall streets downtown.

Of course, there are many local restaurants that have had to close during this time, including the trio of popular downtown establishments owned by local restaurateur Will Brady—The Banshee, B Street Public House and Bill’s Towne Lounge. A note posted on all three Facebook pages on Monday (March 16) reads: “We love our staff and community, so to help with this fight, we will be closing today until we as a country get this virus under control. … Be well and stay safe. We will reopen with a party like you’ve never seen!”

Those closures mean around 130 people are now out of work, and that’s just three businesses. Many more local establishments and their employees are in perilous financial positions, and if you have it to give, one way to help is by buying gift certificates now. Some places have set up fundraising drives for helping out employees in limbo, and The Banshee/B Street/Bill’s has a GoFundMe “tip jar” for the staff that you can donate to at tinyurl.com/BradySpots.

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