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Sonoma County Shuts Down Large Gatherings but Leaves Restaurants Open

Plus, Oakland soul icon Brown Sugar Kitchen closes permanently after 15 years, and more food news 

Roof 106, a rooftop bar and lounge with greenery and couches, at the Matheson The Matheson

In response to the omicron surge, Sonoma County has issued a new health order banning large gatherings — but somehow still leaving indoor dining on the table. Health officer Dr. Sundari R. Mase made the announcement this morning, and the new order runs from January 12 to February 11, unless extended or amended. The order prohibits large gatherings, defined as more than 50 people indoors or 100 people outdoors, including auditoriums, gyms, stadiums, conferences, weddings, and more. But it specifically excludes restaurants, as well as stores, malls, and other places of business.

Sonoma is currently experiencing a surge in COVID — the county is now reporting that case counts have increased 398 percent across 14 days, jumping from 24.4 percent to 121.4 new cases per 100,000 per day, and that trend is expected to continue throughout January. Testing supplies are limited, the county is anticipating three times as many hospitalizations as this time last year, and the surge is disproportionately impacting the Latinx community.

Refill the Restaurant Revitalization Fund now, Congress

Mayor London Breed joined current and former mayors from 26 cities last week in calling on Congress to refill the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). The mayors say that only a third of restaurants who applied for funding received it, and estimate that 82 percent of restaurants that applied could close this winter if Congress fails to act. “Congress cannot only fix a third of the problem the pandemic created,” the letter reads. “Representatives need to ensure these small businesses have the relief they need to navigate the uncertain future and pay down their debt.”

A California soul food icon closes permanently in Oakland

Berkeleyside got the sad scoop that celebrity chef Tanya Holland is permanently closing Brown Sugar Kitchen, her groundbreaking restaurant in Uptown Oakland, ending 15 years of chicken and waffles. [Berkeleyside]

A cozy Japanese cafe also shutters in North Beach

Family Cafe has closed after only a few years on Columbus, the Japanese cafe announced on Instagram. The owners told the SF Chronicle they struggled through the pandemic, and it was too challenging to expand hours and add dinner service. ​​“We’re just so tired,” co-owner Jessica Furui said. “We’re physically in pain.” The last day for katsu sandwiches and matcha lattes is Saturday, January 29. [SF Chronicle]

There’s a special place in hell for these window smashers

Someone smashed the windows of Boba Pup in Santa Clara, the particularly adorable family-owned boba shop known for its mason jars decorated with corgi butts. “When something like this happened, we feel sad and hurt,” the shop wrote on Instagram. “Small businesses has already been struggling these past 2 years.”

A pretty cake bakery is setting up shop in West Oakland

Two Chicks in the Mix, the popular online bakery, has found a permanent location in a new building at 1919 Market Street, according to the SF Chronicle. Planning to open in spring 2022, the bakery will serve its popular lemon cake, slices and cupcakes, as well as chia seed pudding and fruit salad. [SF Chronicle]