KGUN 9NewsCoronavirus


Tucson restaurant owner strives to be part of the solution rather than the problem

Posted at 5:07 PM, Nov 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-29 20:08:18-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — As cases continue to surge in Arizona, some experts are calling for another shelter-in-place order and that would mean restaurants, retailers and more would close if enacted.

[Related: Letter to ADHS: Arizona COVID-19 modeling team recommends 3-week shutdown]

Ray Flores, the President of Flores Concepts, is hoping to keep the doors to his restaurants open. He explained he has worked hand-in-hand with the city and the county to be part of the solution rather than the problem.

"We wrote a plan, it was called our Si 100 plan,” explained Flores.

The Si 100 plan is the Flores Concept’s line of response to slow the spread of the virus. It includes all of the safety measures seen by guests that visit the downtown staple.

Flores invested in dividers between tables, signage letting guests know they need to social distance, and even installed medical-grade air filters.

"Our family who's had a bit of experience in the medical world has also decided that we would take a very aggressive approach to prepare the restaurants in the best way possible, not only for our customers but also for course, our staff and family members who work within the restaurant,” said Flores.

Omar Salazar has worked at El Charro throughout the pandemic and explained during normal times the restaurant is usually very busy.

"We only close for Christmas. So, having all this going on, it's kind of tough,” said Salazar.

The restaurant has seen sales drop 35 to 40 percent some weeks, according to Flores.

The University of Arizona COVID-19 Modeling Team has recommended a shelter-in-place that would include closing indoor dining again.

Salazar stresses that he and his colleagues need restaurants to stay open.

"A lot of people depend on this job. It would be a very good effect is really bad. We can't qualify under unemployment. We really need it. It's our only income it's my job. It's my passion," he explained.

His boss agrees.

"I think as long as restaurants respond to this responsibly, that they act accordingly, they put in mitigation efforts like we've installed and others are doing,” said Flores.

Instead, he wants to see the public take a more active role in wearing their masks and social distancing.

"It is not a proven fact that restaurants have any kind of extra effort or result in causation to COVID-19 spread. In fact, any public setting can be spread--intimate close contact, however, is where it's mostly happening,“ he said.