The Town That Didn't Lock Down

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Spring 2020 was supposed to be a good season for Brooke Johnson, a longtime resident and upstart business owner in the wine country town of Paso Robles, California.

Brunch, her 2-year-old restaurant, had grown steadily throughout the latter half of 2019 at its new downtown location alongside the city’s collection of other trendy restaurants, bars, and hotels. The slow winter months would soon be giving way to warmer weather and waves of out-of-town customers.

“We were getting excited to go into spring and summer in the new, larger…


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