STOCKTON (CBS13) — The stay-at-home order based on ICU capacity took effect last night and San Joaquin County business owners are fuming. They want their voices heard and are taking to the streets.

Many say this hits them in their pocketbook, during the busiest time of the year and they are looking for loopholes to stay open.

“I brought some chowder,” said Michael Midgley as he served up bowls.

Something hot for small business owners in Stockton who feel left out in the cold.

“We’re not going to obey — there is only so much they are going to try to take from us,” said Teddy Southern.

Southern, with the Spa at Southern Exposure, was one of the dozens who united on the steps of city hall vowing to defy the most recent stay at home order that bans indoor and outdoor service.

“In the constitution we have rights and we’re never going to give them up,” he said.

Michael Midgley, who runs Midgley’s Public House restaurant, came to serve the businesses that are serving this community.

“They’re telling us we should shut down. Meanwhile, all these other businesses are open saying we’re not, like, essential. But I got more than 40 employees. They are all essential to the people in their lives people, their families who depend on them to go to work and make money,” he said.

Don King—runs Fat City Brew and BBQ. He’s followed the law through several reopenings where they were limited to takeout and delivery.

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“A couple of days we went not even making enough for payroll..for the days’ pay and that’s tough to do,” he said.

But he has lost staff along the way. Now he will stay open to save the business he built over the last decade.

“I believe in what I believe in and I’m standing up for what I think is right for Fat City and my family,” he said.

Many businesses are frustrated

“We don’t know what’s right or wrong. The laws change on a daily basis,” said Paul Ratto.

Bail bondsman Diego Martinez agreed. He has already lost one business due to COVID regulations.

“How many of us small business owners…have actually gone out there and invested a lot of money to be compliant to be shut down again?” he asked.

They will continue to work hard sanitizing and social distancing–weighing the risk versus reward of staying open. They say the law will be on their side if need be.

“We can make this a private club. We’ll put ‘closed to the public’ outside. You have to buy a ticket to come in to be part of the party,” said King.

“We’re never going to back down and we’re never going to give up,” said Teddy Southern defiantly.


By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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