Redondo Beach

Redondo Beach Restaurant Owner Chooses to Stay Open, Defy Outdoor Dining Ban

A banner that reads "The French Laundry Patio Dining" takes a dig at California Gov. Gavin Newsom's recent dinner outing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Los Angeles County shut down outdoor dining on Nov. 25 for three weeks in response to a rise in coronavirus cases, but one restaurant owner in Redondo Beach says he's not closing up shop.

The patios at Eat at Joe's, a "South Bay landmark" since 1969, were full Monday afternoon with customers supporting the move.

"I think this whole thing is a travesty," customer Terry Kane said. "It's killing the small business, small restaurants, it's killing the employees. They have no other way to make income. There's no stimulus. There's no relief from California on restaurants."

A banner hanging outside the long-running diner reads "The French Laundry Patio Dining" -- an obvious dig at California Gov. Gavin Newsom's recent dinner outing amid the coronavirus pandemic. After photos of Newsom attending the pricey party without a mask were released, he issued an apology, calling it a "bad mistake."

Eat at Joe's owner Alex Jordan says Newsom's fine dining outing was "totally hypocritical." He said the move "set him on edge," prompting him to hang "The French Laundry" banner outside Joe's.

"If it's good enough for Gavin Newsom, it's good enough for all of my clients," Jordan said.

And, the move to keep his restaurant open is about "keeping my employees employed during this tough time of the year," he added.

NBC4’s Conan Nolan talks with LA’s restaurateur Caroline Styne with the Independent Restaurant Coalition about how the latest outdoor dining ban is severely impacting the restaurant business, even if it’s for only for three weeks. Many restaurants are barely making it and many will not come back, says Styne. Are they being unfairly targeted?

He said that he feels it's "somewhat unfair," stating that his business and employees have followed the rules and regulations when it comes to temperature checks, social distancing and masks, but "they [LA County] keep moving the goal line further and further back."

County health officials said during last week's Board of Supervisors meeting that it agrees with targeted enforcement of restaurants, but there are 31,000 eateries in the county, and only enough inspectors available to visit about 1% of them a week.

If the LA County Department of Health completely shuts his restaurant down, he says "I won't be any worse off than I would be if I just never stayed open. We'll stay open as long as we can."

On Sunday, the county reported another 5,014 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 16 additional deaths, bringing the county's totals to 395,843 cases and 7,639 fatalities.

Even more concerning was the continued rise in hospitalizations, which reached 2,049 on Sunday, reaching its highest point since summer.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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