Diner That Pissed Off Polis Reopening, New Lawsuit Coming

A screen capture from a May 10 Mother's Day video that C&C owner April Arellano shared with CBS4.
A screen capture from a May 10 Mother's Day video that C&C owner April Arellano shared with CBS4.
C&C Breakfast and Korean Kitchen in Castle Rock, which incurred Governor Jared Polis's wrath and had its license suspended after a Mother's Day event that largely eschewed masks and social distancing, is planning to reopen on Sunday, June 14, after receiving the blessing of Tri-County Health.

But this development doesn't mean that the business is dropping the lawsuit it filed against Polis, Tri-County Health and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment late last month. Indeed, Randy Corporon, the attorney representing C&C owners April and Jesse Arellano (he's also a prominent talk-show host on KNUS radio), promises that a new complaint is on the way.

Corresponding via email, Corporon writes, "We will also be filing a Federal District Court complaint on behalf of C&C, Shooters Grill, Waters Edge Winery and Bistro, perhaps others."

Shooters Grill is the Rifle eatery owned by congressional candidate Lauren Boebert that, like C&C, received a closure order after reopening prior to Polis and local health officials authorizing previously shuttered restaurants to do so. In Centennial, Waters Edge, a winery, bar and restaurant, also was slapped by local authorities for overstepping what was allowed during the closures. But it was the action around C&C that attracted national attention.

On May 11, the CDPHE suspended C&C's license "prompted by complaints that the Restaurant was not being operated in compliance" with Polis's Safer at Home orders, "which were issued to protect the public health from the transmission in the community of COVID-19. Tri-County Health Department visited the Restaurant on numerous occasions to evaluate the situation and to speak with the Owners. The Owners indicated that they would not comply with the Orders," according to the department.

The CDPHE ultimately determined that C&C "was not employing social distancing or requiring the use of face coverings for employees," leading the agency to conclude "that the Restaurant posed an imminent health hazard as defined in the Colorado Food Protection Act."

A video showing the Mother's Day scene at C&C quickly went viral:

During a May 11 press conference, Polis announced that C&C's license had been suspended and that the eatery would likely remain closed after other Colorado restaurants were given permission to serve customers on site. Corporon's lawsuit questions that rationale: "Certainly, the Plaintiffs opening their restaurant to customers, when so many other businesses are permitted to open their doors to customers, does not constitute an 'imminent health threat.'" The document also criticizes Polis for calling out C&C by name, thereby making an example of the business in ways that could have long-term negative consequences, it claims.

On-premises dining at Colorado restaurants was allowed again on May 27 under strict guidelines, but as Polis predicted, C&C had to wait a while longer. "Tri-County lifted their shut-down order against C&C on June 4 based upon Douglas County's variance allowing in-person dining," Corporon reveals. "They said it was 'no longer necessary.'"

Corporon points out that "CDPHE reinstated C&C's license for Castle Rock the same day. ... We received email notification of the rescission of the summary suspension on June 4 and a copy of the order on June 5. The rescission was subject to a Tri-County inspection, which was successfully completed on Monday, June 8. C&C is tentatively scheduled to reopen Sunday, June 14."

In the meantime, the Douglas County District Court judge handling the lawsuit "ordered that all parties be served and answers filed before scheduling any hearing, even though we had filed a motion for an emergency hearing," Corporon says. "The two health departments and the CDPHE Director waived service of our complaint, but we could not obtain a waiver for the Governor. We were ultimately able to serve him, also on June 4. I will be discussing the case with lawyers for the parties, perhaps Friday or the first of next week, regarding what claims remain now that the license is reinstated and C&C is able to reopen."

Click to read the Tri-County Health order lifting the C&C Breakfast and Korean Kitchen summary suspension and the original lawsuit.