A Burbank saloon. A pho restaurant in Laguna Niguel. A brewery in Anaheim. What do they have in common? They’re among the growing number of restaurants openly defying the California’s ban on outdoor dining, even as the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise and the ICU capacity at SoCal hospitals has dropped to 1.7%.
Per anecdotal reports and social media, we’ve only heard of a few eateries in Southern California defying the in-service dining ban, like Tinhorn Flats in Burbank. Owner Baret Lepejian reopened the sports bar last Thursday and said he would serve customers outside from noon to 9 p.m., Tuesdays through Sundays.
Lepejian told Eater LA he figured he had nothing to fear because, “I’m going to lose my business anyway,” and said he would continue cooking until he was physically removed from the property.
Farther south, the city of Manhattan Beach found a workaround to the oudoor dining ban by reclassfying restaurants’ outdoor dining areas as public seating areas. That means patrons can order food then sit and eat in a restaurant’s outdoor area (although not with alcohol).
The heart of the resistance to the outdoor dining ban, however, seems to be in Orange County, where as of this past weekend, more than 60 eateries had vowed to continue serving seated patrons, according to the OC Register. Many of them are using the #OpenSafe hashtag on Instagram.
On Dec. 7, Jeff Chon of Oak & Coal in Costa Mesa posted a letter on Instagram declaring, “We, as responisble small business owners and operators, do hereby declare our intention to protest the current stay home order.”
In the post, he says the restaurant will be open for patio service most nights from 5 to 10 and will continue to follow state and county safety standards, including the use of hand sanitizer, socially distanced seating and face masks.
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In Temecula in Riverside County, “it’s business as usual” for restaurants along Old Town Front Street, reports FOX11. One server at The Bank of Mexican Food told the station, “All the merchants got together and they said, We have to fight this because if we don’t, we will be closed down, we will no longer have a business.”
The Riverside County Health Department has, so far, decided not to fine businesses defying the orders, according to FOX 11.
In the Danish-themed tourist town of Solvang in Santa Barbara County, the city council voted on Dec. 7 against actively enforcing county and state shutdown orders.
The decision could lead to businesses potentially losing their licenses, or put the city at risk of losing its state funding and obtaining liability insurance, one of the county’s supervisors told Noozhawk.