Castle Rock restaurant that defied shutdowns closing permanently

C&C Coffee and Kitchen shuttering one of two locations

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A Castle Rock business that drew national attention for defying public health orders and reopening during restaurant shutdowns is permanently closing, its owners say.

C&C Coffee and Kitchen owners Jesse and April Arellano announced through a July 24 Facebook post that they are closing their Castle Rock location but will continue operating their store in Colorado Springs. They first opened C&C in Castle Rock in 2013.

The Arellanos said they were struggling with both sales and adequate staffing during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. The Castle Rock location's last day of operation was July 26, they said.

“We are going to try to stop the financial bleeding between our two locations,” the couple said.

The coffee shop garnered support but also swift and widespread criticism when it opened to in-person dining on Mother's Day, in violation of public-health orders in effect at the time in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Video footage taken by a Colorado Community Media reporter showed lines forming out the door and people crowded inside the shop. Masks were scarce and patrons did not observe social distancing.

At the time, Colorado only allowed restaurants to perform curbside, pickup and delivery services.

Gov. Jared Polis said on May 11 he was “extremely disappointed” to see the business and its customers breaking the law. If other businesses emulated the behavior, it could lead to COVID-19 outbreaks, he said.

The Tri-County Health Department ordered C&C to close on May 11 and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment suspended its license on May 12.

CDPHE Executive Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan said in a May 12 statement that actions like C&C's could “defeat the progress made during the Stay-at-Home order,” calling it “irresponsible behavior.”

The Castle Rock restaurant reopened in June.

The Arellanos filed a lawsuit against the governor and state and local health agencies, claiming restaurant shutdowns violated constitutional rights and caused “economic catastrophe” for their operation.

The couple said the shutdowns had pushed their business to the brink of bankruptcy and that they felt their option was to shutter the café for good or illegally reopen.

“We did not know that it would have gained as much attention as it had. We knew that we were going against the grain,” the couple's Facebook statement said.

The Arellanos criticized Polis for having “personally attacked us” and called the shutdowns hypocritical, saying large businesses were not scrutinized as heavily as small businesses.

Members of the community -- including House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock -- rallied around C&C, including by taping cash donations to the shop's entrance in the days after it closed.

As of July 28, a GoFundMe had raised $35,680 for the C&C. Before Mother's Day, the business also received $5,000 from a grant program the Town of Castle Rock launched during the pandemic.

The Arellanos were not immediately available for comment on the closure.

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