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Restaurant in Poconos refuses to close

Hickory Valley Farm Restaurant defied the governor's orders to stop indoor dining a few weeks ago remains open, even after being ordered to close.

SWIFTWATER, Pa. — The food specials sign is out, and the tables are set for indoor dining inside Hickory Valley Farm Restaurant near Tannersville, even after being ordered to close last week by the State Department of Agriculture. 

Owner Robert Grimaldi decided to stay open and offer indoor dining to customers despite the governor's orders. 

Under the latest mandate, restaurants are not permitted to serve patrons indoors until January. 

Grimaldi says this is normally one of the busiest times of the year for him. 

"Thank god for the local people coming out to support us, but we should be packed right now, and we should be packed right through the 2nd or 3rd. But we're not," said Grimaldi.

The restaurant was ordered to close on December 21. 

Grimaldi says his staff came to him and asked to stay open, just days before Christmas.

"I will not close! We will not put these people out of work. My staff has to work, we all need to work. were doing 6 feet apart on tables, at least, we all have our masks on. There's sanitizer everywhere in this restaurant. Does Walmart, Home Depot, and Lowes sanitize everything, every single customer, we do," said Grimaldi. 

Customers that decided to dine-in say there's no reason why restaurants should be ordered to halt indoor dining amid the pandemic.

"I think I'm as thrilled as everybody else in town. I think we're all adults we can all make a choice on whether we want to go inside a restaurant to eat or if we want to do curbside, whatever you feel comfortable with. I don't think there should be a mandate, which isn't really a law," said Kim Staples from Bartonsville. 

"Restaurants, I feel like, aren't really the case like if you look at the Walmarts and Lowes like they're packed. That's was like the big spots are. You know getting to sit down with family and friends is just a traditional thing that you should be able to do freely," said Matthew Taylor, from Forest City. 

Grimaldi says he plans to offer indoor dining right through January 4, when the state plans to lift restrictions on restaurants.