Jesse Arellano of Colorado said the government mandates put in place during the COVID pandemic crushed his family’s small business — and he shared a few thoughts as well with Fox News Digital on how he would have handled things differently.
His restaurant business, comprised of two separate locations, was successful, he said — until it wasn’t.
Arellano has spoken out in the past about what happened to him and his family.
But in a new interview this week with Fox News Digital, Arellano reflected on his once-thriving small business, C&C Breakfast and Korean Kitchen of Colorado.
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His location in Castle Rock had roughly 35 employees — and was known for being a place to meet friends both old and new.
The Arellano family ran the business.
“We were really a family-oriented small business, just mom and pop — me and my wife and my son Zander and my daughter Isabella, even though she mostly just drank the soda,” he said.
The family opened C&C before the pandemic hit.
By March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the U.S. and lockdowns began to be enforced by government entities, Arellano said he feared for the future of his family restaurant.
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“We were closed down,” said Arellano. “They said 15 days … to slow the spread. We said, ‘You know what? Enough is enough. You’re going to kill us. You’re going to kill our business,’” he said.
The to-go orders that the restaurant tried selling (in place of in-person dining) were simply not enough to keep things afloat.
Arellano said his business was down by 80% — which made things extremely difficult.
“We were bleeding money and the stress was immense.”
So, determined to make his own decisions as an entrepreneur in America, Arellano said that after two months of the mandates, he and the family chose to open their doors on Mother’s Day of 2020 — ignoring local government mandates at the time that did not permit indoor dining.
Arellano said he received warnings from many corners to hold off on reopening to indoor dining. But he did so anyway.
“As far as we were concerned, the government didn’t own our business — and they couldn’t tell us to shut down,” he said.
Arellano recalled the two types of responses his business seemed to receive from people in the community.
On one side were those who were extremely supportive in terms of helping to keep the business alive. Some people even taped money to the storefront to show their support for the family business, he told Fox News Digital.
But on the other side, he said, he felt that there was a type of cancel culture at work. Someone even wrote that by reopening his restaurants, he was completely harming the Colorado restaurant industry.
The family ultimately had to close both locations of their business.
Even so, Arellano decided to stay open a day longer — resulting in a $15,000-a-day fine.
“Of course, we [couldn’t] handle that,” he said.
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The health department ordered his business closed and health officials even suspended the restaurant’s license after it opened its doors to dine-in customers on Mother’s Day, against public health orders.
Arellano and his family were in the process of pursuing litigation, he said, when restaurants were allowed, eventually, to reopen their indoor dining facilities with new guidelines. At that point, C&C reopened for a few months.
But after everything the family endured — including the death of Arellano’s father during the pandemic — and with the pressure of operating and maintaining two locations, one in Castle Rock and the other in Colorado Springs, the family ultimately had to close both locations.
“We were just bleeding money like crazy and the stress was immense,” he said.
“This is America,” he also said. “We’re supposed to help small business. We’re supposed to be the backbone of our country.”
He said the entire chain of events put enormous strain on his family. They basically lost everything.
“The government doesn’t get to run your business. This is America.”
When asked what he would change if he could go back in time, though — he had a clear answer.
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“If I could go back, I probably would have just stayed open more,” he said.
“The government doesn’t get to run your business,” he said. “This is America — and unfortunately, that’s more of what we saw, that if you do not comply, we’re going to destroy you.”
The Arellano family now has moved forward.
Jesse Arellano is working a 9-to-5 job in IT — and his children are homeschooled. He said he didn’t like the back-and-forth of school openings and closings.
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“Without our faith, I don’t think we could’ve made it through,” he told Fox News Digital.
“It’s been probably the hardest two years, but we just try to keep our head up and move on.”