Owner fined by LA County says he didn't want to lay off workers before Christmas
AGOURA HILLS, Calif. - As Los Angeles County outdoor dining restrictions remain in effect some restaurants are complying with the order while others are not.
And both sides have their reasons for doing so.
LA County remains the only county in the entire state of California that has banned outdoor dining.
RELATED: LA County to suspend all in-person dining as COVID-19 cases surge
While in Ventura County outdoor dining remains open.
FOX 11's Bill Melugin spoke to one restaurant owner defying the rules and staying open. And another owner who has decided to obey the rules just down the street from each other in Agoura Hills.
At Hatch Café and Market in Agoura Hills the lights are out, the chairs are stacked and outdoor dining no longer offered a decision made by owner Mark Lavalle.
Lavalle says, "I want to protect my staff, first and foremost my personal family, and our guests so complying just makes the most sense to get out of this quicker."
But just up the road at Cronies Sports Bar and Grill outdoor dining is alive and well with patrons happy to partake in it a decision owner Dave Foldes says he also made to protect his staff’s financial health.
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Foldes says, "The thing that hurts the most here is we’re here for our staff members during Christmas time who need money more than ever, and we don’t have the heart to lay them off.”
Both owners taking drastically different approaches in responding to LA County’s order banning outdoor dining.
“I’m just a firm believe of following the rules, at the end of the day, I have to err on the side of science and listen to what they’re saying.”
At Cronies Foldes tells FOX 11 the health department already pulled his permit and hit him with a $1,000 fine on Tuesday and another one today.
He said, “They came in again today cause there were more complaints from the community that we’re still open from very few people, so now it’s $1500.”
Foldes says he knows the virus is serious he lost his father to COVID-19 in April, but he tells FOX 11 the business can’t survive on just takeout which he says only netted $400 on Tuesday.
"We really have no choice, we’re barely getting by, we’re losing $5 to $10 grand a month in our busiest normal months." He says, "We’re following all the regulations that the rest of the state and country are following, we just need to survive and I need to make sure my staff survives because they can’t afford it.”
Lavalle is feeling the same economic pain.
“We’re down over 50% of our business.”
But he says when he sees other restaurants staying open while he complies with the rules it can be discouraging.
Lavalle says, “It’s disappointing, because cases are spiking and I know there’s mixed messages about is it survivable, is it not, this and that, I’ve got parents, I’ve got children, why spread it if we don’t have to so when I see it I get a little disappointed."
One thing both men share is frustration for their respective situations as restaurant owners in LA County.
Foldes says, "The craziest thing is one off ramp up the street less than a mile away, restaurants are opened for outdoor dining and they’re doing great."