‘Save our economy’: Newport Beach business leaders press for masks

Cappy's Cafe waitresses wear plastic gloves and face masks and hold a sign provided by the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce.
Cappy’s Cafe waitresses wear plastic gloves and face masks and hold a sign provided by the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

With every hairpin turn in the coronavirus pandemic and its potentially crippling impact on businesses, Tim Campbell and his Newport Beach restaurant, Cappy’s Cafe, have leaned in.

He switched to disposable menus, set up a virtual queuing system via the Yelp app and secured a Paycheck Protection Program loan. When indoor dining was still allowed, he installed Plexiglas barriers around the till and to divide up his long communal tables. He erected a large tent in his parking lot for an al fresco option after getting Newport’s first permit for temporary outdoors business expansion. Then when Gov. Gavin Newsom reversed the reopening earlier this month of indoor dining rooms statewide, Campbell put up a second tent.

The step he took this week was easy by comparison — post a few small signs around Cappy’s — but it literally bore an important message.

“Save our economy. Wear a mask!”

The message is a true one, Campbell said.

The laminated signs came courtesy of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce, which launched a campaign earlier this month to remind people that keeping the economy healthy means controlling COVID-19. Chamber President Steve Rosansky personally delivered a handful to Cappy’s on Thursday.

 Cappy's Cafe
Steve Rosansky, right, Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce president, delivers signage regarding wearing masks, to owners Tim Campbell and wife, Sheryl, at Cappy’s Cafe in Newport Beach on Thursday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Campbell, who runs Cappy’s with his wife, Sheryl, after purchasing it in late 2018, was in commercial real estate in Orange County for decades before briefly relocating in 2015 to Hawaii to run a seafood wholesaler, another family business. After selling that enterprise and returning to Newport, the Campbells invested in renovating Cappy’s while keeping its eclectic diner-style menu.

Cappy’s has roughly the same capacity outside as it did inside, spread loosely behind the longtime West Newport eatery with the wraparound murals of iconic Newport imagery. Campbell said business is down 10% to 12%, but he’s still doing brisk business with his adapted operations.

On Thursday, a party of young women cheered a 21st birthday with mimosas over lunch, and a dog sat beside its master on the shaded blacktop. All servers wore masks and gloves, and staff inside the chaotically organized kitchen did too as they wrapped up the lunch rush and prepped for the next day’s breakfast.

With his $238,000 federal loan, Campbell was able to keep his full staff of 35 working, including a cook who has been at Cappy’s for 22 years. He said he has dedicated regulars, some who even come daily, but takeout-only would not have been sustainable.

District officials said Wednesday high Orange County coronavirus infection rates have thwarted plans to reopen physical campuses on Aug. 24. Some reacted with relief, others dread.

The Newport Chamber has wear-a-mask signs available for download at Staff will also print signs for interested businesses and create signs to order, for free.

Other standard signs say “Save a life. Wear a mask.” or “Save our business. Wear a mask.”

Rosansky said a few businesses he’s approached have said they support face coverings but declined signs because they don’t want to court conflict over the politicized mask debate, and others have said they don’t believe in masks. But most businesses have been receptive, especially independently operated shops, he said.

Among the customized messages, Rosansky said, is one that reads: “Grandma Loves You and Loves Life. Wear a mask.”

“As individuals, there’s very little we can do” about COVID-19, said Rosansky, a former Newport mayor. “But I can wear a mask and I can physically distance and I can wash my hands.”

Orange County had 506 new COVID-19 cases and 17 newly reported related deaths Thursday according to the Orange County Health Care Agency, bringing the totals to 35,778 and 604, respectively.

Hospitalized coronavirus patients numbered 592, with 189 in intensive care. The testing positivity rate was at 11.7%, ICU bed availability at 38%, and the change in the three-day average of hospitalized patients at -8.6%.

Here are the latest cumulative case counts and deaths for select cities:

  • Santa Ana: 6,755 cases; 157 deaths
  • Anaheim: 6,115 cases; 149 deaths
  • Huntington Beach: 1,660 cases; 45 deaths
  • Costa Mesa: 1,176 cases; seven deaths
  • Irvine: 1,160 cases; nine deaths
  • Newport Beach: 813 cases; six deaths
  • Fountain Valley: 356 cases; nine deaths
  • Laguna Beach: 133 cases; fewer than five deaths

And here are the demographics in Orange County for the case counts followed by deaths:

By age:

  • 0 to 17: 2,140; 0
  • 18 to 24: 5,327; 2
  • 25 to 34: 8,132; 9
  • 35 to 44: 5,849; 18
  • 45 to 54: 5,840; 52
  • 55 to 64: 4,282; 80
  • 65 to 74: 2,088; 114
  • 75 to 84: 1,179; 139
  • 85 and older: 911; 189

By race/ethnicity:

  • Latino: 8,405; 247
  • White: 5,362; 193
  • Asian: 1,526; 90
  • Black: 282; 8
  • Unknown: 15,877; 7
  • Other (includes Pacific Islander, American Indian and multiple races): 4,326; 59

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