'Our best option of survival is to shut everything down.' Mountain View's Steins Beer Garden closes until 2021 | Peninsula Foodist | Elena Kadvany | Mountain View Online |

Local Blogs

Peninsula Foodist

By Elena Kadvany

E-mail Elena Kadvany

About this blog: Get the latest food news with the biweekly Peninsula Foodist newsletter.
I am a perpetually hungry twenty-something journalist, born and raised in Menlo Park and currently workin...  (More)

View all posts from Elena Kadvany

'Our best option of survival is to shut everything down.' Mountain View's Steins Beer Garden closes until 2021

Uploaded: Dec 8, 2020
One of downtown Mountain View's most popular eating and drinking establishments, Steins Beer Garden & Restaurant, has closed until further notice in the face of at least a month without outdoor dining.


Pre-coronavirus, customers gather in Steins outdoor patio on Villa Street in Mountain View. Photo by Katie Brigham/Mountain View Voice.

Owner Ted Kim said he knew it would be impossible for the Villa Street restaurant to survive on takeout and delivery alone. Santa Clara County preemptively implemented the state's regional stay-at-home order this week, requiring restaurants to shut down outdoor dining starting Sunday night until at least Jan. 4.

"After careful consideration our best option of survival is to shut everything down now, save as much money as we can and hope to reopen next year when (hopefully) a new stimulus bill is available, the vaccine is more ubiquitous and fear of COVID isn't as prevalent in the area," Kim said.

Kim had already closed Steins' Cupertino location early in the shutdown, reduced his staff by more than half and had to apply for unemployment himself in April. He put plans to expand throughout California on hold.

When Santa Clara County allowed outdoor dining to resume this summer, sales rebounded to about 30% of what Steins usually makes, and even more so when indoor dining briefly resumed in the fall, Kim said. But the numbers started dropping again the last few weeks, to about 15 to 20% of normal sales.

"Even without the stay-at-home order, it was looking really tough. The stay-at-home order was just the nail in the coffin," Kim said.


Diners eat outside on Castro Street in Mountain View, which has been closed to traffic since this summer. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

As soon as Kim heard the news about the local order taking effect Sunday night, he rushed to notify his staff.

"For our staff, every paycheck is super vital and to suddenly realize you only have two more days of work and to start preparing for what you're going to do next is very daunting," he said. "This the climate. This is how it's been since March."

In interviews since the county's expedited the stay-at-home order, Kim and other local restaurant owners expressed dejection and frustration at the devastation small businesses are experiencing amidst increasing public health restrictions.

"We're stuck in the middle of being in a state and county where we feel like there is an overwhelming leaning toward the health aspect of COVID, which we completely get (but) sometimes it feels like businesses are left at the wayside," Kim said. "We get the restrictions, but send us more help."

Calls have been intensifying for the federal government to pass another stimulus bill to help struggling restaurants, as well as to pass the RESTAURANTS Act, which would establish a $120 billion restaurant revitalization fund.

Locally, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved on Tuesday a new small business loan program in partnership with the state's California Rebuilding Fund. The county hopes to provide an immediate $6 million in low-interest loans to small businesses as a first step in a program they hope will provide as much as $100 million in loans. The initial loans will range from $5,000 to $100,000, have a 4.25% interest rate and
be available for qualifying small businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees. Several restaurant owners said relief like grants and tax forgiveness would be more impactful after frustrating experiences with the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and taking on other loans to keep their businesses afloat this year.

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors also expressed support this week for a proposed cap on the delivery fees third party platforms can charge restaurants. The fees can be as high as 30% and in many cases eat up a restaurant's entire profit margin — for Kim, this contributed to his decision to close Steins temporarily.

"The biggest share of COVID-related unemployment has come in our local restaurant industry," Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Cindy Chavez said in a press release about the delivery caps. "Just as we have done with our moratorium against commercial evictions, we must do what we can to help these restaurants survive."

(San Mateo County, Marin County, Alameda County, the cities of Santa Clara and San Francisco are among the local jurisdictions that have adopted similar limits on delivery fees.)

Kim predicted more independent restaurants will close in the coming weeks and months or, like him, go into hibernation until conditions improve enough to operate at sustainable levels. The Fish Market temporarily closed its Palo Alto and Santa Clara locations as of Dec. 2, writing on Facebook that "we can't wait to welcome you back in when conditions improve." Without indoor or outdoor dining, the owner of Rangoon Ruby temporarily closed the downtown Palo Alto restaurant and consolidated it with Burma Ruby several blocks away. Other local restaurants, meanwhile, are still temporarily closed from the first shutdown.

Kim hopes to reopen Steins next spring but will have to wait and see what things are like then.

"Not a single person isn't feeling just really a little hopeless, a little burnt out," Kim said of small business owners.
We need your support now more than ever. Can we count on you?

Comments

 +   12 people like this
Posted by Victor Bishop, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Dec 8, 2020 at 2:53 pm

Victor Bishop is a registered user.

Another notch in Sara Cody's belt.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Steven Goldstein, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Dec 8, 2020 at 7:31 pm

Steven Goldstein is a registered user.

Victor Bishop is under a belief that the DPH is trying to ruin businesses, when they are bound by law to protect the public health.

I went to Castro Street today, and the barricades are still up, it will make for very difficult takeout and delivery services, they will be bottle necked to the rear entrances. Slowing down work and making the products less quality as a result.

The City should have removed all of the street blockage by Monday morning, given that the likelihood of the lockdown is going to be extended at least one more month. During the time where the weather is likely to not be good enough for outdoor services anyway.

Structures of any kind cannot be legally built on the street in any case, no matter how temporary they are.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by cheese guy, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Dec 8, 2020 at 7:37 pm

cheese guy is a registered user.

No, another notch for dealing with the reality of the situation. Thanks to the restaurant owners for acknowledging the need to be part of the solution rather than the problem. There is little doubt that dining establishments and a lethal pandemic do not mix, that indoor and even perhaps outdoor dining represent real societal risks, and that in the months ahead the time will come to open these valued businesses.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Victor Bishop, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Dec 8, 2020 at 7:56 pm

Victor Bishop is a registered user.

Cheese guy:
Web Link
"UCSF's Gandhi said there is no evidence published by the state or counties in California that outdoor dining with safety measures " such as two sides open for cross ventilation, masks worn at all times by staff and by customers when not eating, small tables spread apart and hand hygiene " are fueling spread.

“Indoor dining is likely more risky," Gandhi said, “and closed some time back when the surge started happening.""


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Steven Goldstein, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Dec 8, 2020 at 10:21 pm

Steven Goldstein is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Steven Goldstein, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Dec 9, 2020 at 11:08 am

Steven Goldstein is a registered user.

Why was this information purged from the blog?

Dr. Rutherford a Medical Professor in Epidemiology clearly states the outdoor dining is not proven safe and that it adds risk to your health It was broadcast on KGO TV here (Web Link)

"It's essentially impossible to eat or drink while keeping a mask on," said Dr. George Rutherford, Professor of Epidemiology at UC San Francisco.

Dr. Rutherford says right now when California health officials are trying to put an emergency brake on everything to get a handle on the novel coronavirus, he believes it's appropriate to include banning outdoor dining for those counties in the purple tier.

ABC7 News asked Dr. Rutherford if outdoor dining is inherently dangerous as it relates to transmission.

"If you're sitting outdoors by yourself eating no, if you're sitting outdoors with people in your household no, if you're sitting in a restaurant mixing people from four households together at the same table yes, it's all about degrees," said Dr. Rutherford.

He says most of us aren't great about discerning higher risk from lower risk situations.

"It's when people start to congregate so you say let's meet our friends, well why don't they bring their friends too so all of a sudden you have a party of six or eight people. That's when you're going to get into trouble," he explained.

Might California have been able to reduce it's COVID-19 case numbers without banning outdoor dining? Maybe says Dr. Rutherford.

"Could it be done more finely? Could it be done a little more selectively? Yeah but there's no guarantee it's going to work," said Dr. Rutherford.

Without that guarantee, for now at least the decision has been made."

If we want to be safe we cannot take unnecessary risks, right? We have to have the highest level of safety as long as we are in the PURPLE tier and have no ICU beds, per this report from NBC News (Web Link):

“"We think it's going to be better to circle the wagons, have our team together and use the space that we have to the best of our ability and forgo the pandemic tent," Silka said.

The COVID-19 surge is taxing ICUs throughout the county, and the situation is getting worse by the day.

"As of noon today, I am sad to report we are down to 31 beds," Dr. Ahmad Kamal with Santa Clara County Health Care Preparedness said. "This is 9.5% of our capacity. It is the worst we have seen."

The county is looking into diverting patients to hospitals with more available beds and even using the De Paul Health Center in Morgan Hill to accommodate 36 sub-acute patients."

Please be safe EVERYONE?


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Victor Bishop, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Dec 9, 2020 at 6:05 pm

Victor Bishop is a registered user.

Web Link

"Restaurants have been mandated by the state to impose certain regulations and hygiene measures. They follow the general principles of harm reduction that Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease expert at UCSF, goes by: masks, distancing, ventilation and hand hygiene.

“There is no evidence that I can find anywhere in the world that outdoor dining with those four procedures in play increases the risk of COVID-19," she said.
The data that does exist is minimal and hasn't looked specifically at outdoor dining, Gandhi said, and the two most frequently cited studies have not been nuanced enough."

Outdoor playgrounds were apparently major spreaders of the virus for 2 days-- the state rescinded the ban


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Victor Bishop, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Dec 9, 2020 at 6:14 pm

Victor Bishop is a registered user.

Also of note this court ruling:
Web Link


 +  Like this comment
Posted by [email protected], a resident of Mountain View,
on Dec 9, 2020 at 7:06 pm

[email protected] is a registered user.

Victor bishop.

The court ruling in LA was based primarily on the fact that the County order was MOOT.

The STATE order in effect nullified the lawsuit as well.

THe court ruled:

"But he said the county's assertion that the virus can be spread in restaurants by patrons spending extended periods of time without masks “only weakly supports the closure of outdoor restaurant dining, because it ignores the outdoor nature of the activity, which the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) says carries only a moderate risk, and less with mitigations."

While the state's order will be in place until Dec. 27, at a minimum, the county could foreseeably extend its own outdoor dining ban set to expire on Dec. 16 beyond the state's order " but only “after conducting an appropriate risk-benefit analysis," the judge said.

Chalfant wrote that he can't dictate what that analysis should entail, but suggested that the county “could be expected to consider the economic cost of closing 30,000 restaurants, the impact to restaurant owners and their employees and the psychological and emotional cost to a public tired of the pandemic and seeking some form of employment in their lives."

The ruling comes one week after the judge asked county lawyers to produce evidence that shutting down outdoor dining would in fact stem the spread of the virus."

Thus during this time if LA does the "risk-benefit analysis" that passes the muster of the court, the original ruling will be terminated. You really are grasping at straws here. It would be interesting that LA were to complete said analysis and eventually overturns this decision, right?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by [email protected], a resident of Mountain View,
on Dec 9, 2020 at 7:24 pm

[email protected] is a registered user.

Sorry I forgot the source of that information, it was from the Daily News article seen on this website (Web Link)

Constantly repeating the fact that Monica Ghandi has her opinion, she does not teach Epidemiology.

She is a researcher on the infectious virus field whose expertise is HIV, which is NOT an airborne virus, it is spread by exchange of fluids. She appears to have done very ltille work on airborne infections if you do research on her. That information is on her own website at UCSF found here (Web Link) Specifically it states:

"Dr. Gandhi's current research program is on identifying low-cost solutions to measuring antiretroviral levels in resource-poor settings, such as determining drug levels in hair and urine samples. Dr. Gandhi also works on pre-exposure prophylaxis and treatment strategies for HIV infection in women. .

Dr. Gandhi also has an interest at UCSF in HIV education and mentorship. She also served as the principal investigator of an R24 mentoring grant from the NIH focused on nurturing early career investigators of diversity in HIV research, from which launched the annual "Mentoring the Mentors" workshop for HIV researchers held annually by the UCSF CFAR to train mentors in specialized tools and techniques of effective mentoring. She is also the co-director of the CFAR Network of Integrated Clinical Systems (CNICS) Mentoring Program. She co-directs the HIV/ID Consult Service at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH), attends on the inpatient HIV/Infectious Diseases consult service, sees patients at Ward 86 as an HIV care provider, and serves as the Associate Director of the UCSF ID fellowship for Clinical Research."

She does not seem to be an EXPERT in this kind of viral practices. I would simply say that she has the right to express her opinion, but she has NO scientific expertise in this area. In fact she has much less experience than the other Doctor Rutherford whose opinion contradicted her if you look at his website here (Web Link). One key expertise he has over Doctor Ghandi is the concept of POPULATION SURVEILLANCE.

The readers should make up their own minds here, I provided some resources to look at.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Victor Bishop, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Dec 9, 2020 at 7:39 pm

Victor Bishop is a registered user.

Oh look, Steven Goldstein ([email protected])
Web Link
“ My research interests are the epidemiology and prevention of infectious and tropical diseases of public health importance, both internationally and domestically, with a primary focus on HIV and AIDS. "


 +  Like this comment
Posted by [email protected], a resident of Mountain View,
on Dec 9, 2020 at 8:22 pm

[email protected] is a registered user.

Victor Bishop.

Doctor Ghandi has no expertise in population surveillance (infection monitoring and mitigation).

But Doctor Rutherford does.

Thereby, he is qualified to discuss airborne infections, and thus is is superiorly qualified to make the better case.

Your just need to find anyone to agree with you. But the vast majority of medical experts does not agree with Dr. Ghandi.

Please produce any research she has done on population surveillance?


Follow this blogger.
Sign up to be notified of new posts by this blogger.

Email:

SUBMIT

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.


Get the most important local news stories sent straight to your inbox daily.

Mountain View gets new dhaba-style Indian restaurant
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 5,011 views

Demystifying heat pump water heaters
By Sherry Listgarten | 16 comments | 4,971 views

Premarital and Couples: Join the Club . . .
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 2,081 views

Inaugural reflections
By Diana Diamond | 16 comments | 878 views