Shutdown Takes Toll on Retailers, Restaurants

(Kathy Enzerink, Photographer)
Paul Jones and Ulises Santiago package vegetarian quinoa salads from Fourth Bore for delivery to John Muir Hospital staff.

    An unexpected thing happened March 17 at Casa Orinda, Contra Costa County’s oldest continuously operating restaurant which has been open since 1932. It closed its doors.
    “It was a sad milestone in the restaurant’s 88 years of operation. We can’t wait until the COVID-19 cautions lessen and it’s safe for us to all gather again,” said owner John Goyak. “The Casa hasn’t been shuttered in at least 50 years.”
    According to General Manager Claudia Tata, the staff is sheltering in place at their homes, cooking a lot, walking, gardening and maybe gaining a pound or two. “We all stay in touch with group chats and phone calls,” she said.
    Indeed, it wasn’t business as usual in Orinda as the state and city implemented measures to keep residents safe from the coronavirus. But in typical Orinda style, shopkeepers and residents took on the spirit of We’re in This Together.
    Michael Karp, owner of the Fourth Bore Tap Room and Grill, added family-style, take-out meals Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays to the regular menu, while keeping the doors open daily from noon to 7 p.m. Customers place orders online or in person. The restaurant also offers home delivery.
    In addition, Karp is donating 15 percent of all family-style meals to Orinda schools and local charities, including a Go Fund Me project to feed health care workers at John Muir Hospitals.
    A list of restaurants offering pick up and delivery can be found at under the COVID-19 heading.
    At Safeway customers stand in darkness and form lines before sunrise to be among the first to nab coveted toilet paper, bleach and paper towels.
    Safeway limits the number of customers allowed in at a given time and marks aisles for one-way cart traffic. Not all products are available, and rain checks are not being given during the crisis. Flour is hit or miss. Shelves with canned goods, dry beans and pasta empty quickly. The store accepts online orders which are delivered or picked up at the store.
    When deliveries come, CVS Manager Andrew Poudrier sorts through goods on pallets and in storage cases. He moves all virus-related products to the corner sidewalk, and at 11 a.m. begins the distribution process. Essential items are gone within minutes.
    Pharmacies at CVS, Rite-Aid and the Medicine Shoppe offer free delivery in Orinda.
    Seniors Around Town (SAT) pairs volunteer drivers/shoppers with Orinda seniors unable to do their own grocery shopping or run errands in town. Seniors in need of help and volunteers may call 925-402-4056 or email to sign up.
    Earlier this year, Drs. Kristine Eng and Kelly Shintani at Orinda Optometry Group added EyecareLive, a virtual clinic, to their practice.
    “Luckily, we were up and running prior to the shelter-in-place order,” said Eng. “We are able to diagnose a lot of situations, including pink and red eye infections. The timing was perfect.”
    Having the ability to perform virtual screenings helps keep patients safe, sanitary and decreases visits to urgent care facilities, said Eng. The office is closed but appointments can be made for eye ware adjustments.
    “We are grateful to have the telemedicine technology and plan to keep it as part of our regular practice,” said Eng.
    Orinda Books launched what it called White Glove Delivery – a free service to customers in Lamorinda and Rossmoor who order by phone or via “We would rather be open but understand the need to stop the spread of the virus,” said owner Pat 
    Considered essential, auto repair shops can remain open in addition to gas stations. Business has slowed at Orinda Motors and Orinda Shell Auto Care, where both facilities have made staffing adjustments. Essential service includes overdue mileage maintenance and repairing cars which are not drivable for commuters, according to Kathy Mitchell, owner of Shell Auto Care. Protective gloves and disinfectant cleaning are standard at both establishments.
    McDonnell’s Nursery is taking phone and online orders for curbside pickup. The nursery is open Wednesdays through Sundays with inventory replenished weekly.
    “As we evolve, we are creating solutions to keep your garden growing and your surroundings beautiful,” said owner Sarah McDonnell.

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