Owner who sold own home during pandemic says he had no choice but to pack his restaurant during Super Bowl

Inside the metal fence and under the white tent, TVs blared during the Super Bowl. The restaurant was packed with no socially-distanced tables or people and no masks being worn.

"I don't want to break the rules. I don't want to cause problems, I just want to survive. That's the big thing. I just want to survive," the restaurant's owner tells FOX 11. We chose to not identify his name or his business so we wouldn't single them out.

The interview with the business comes days after LA County allowed restaurants in the area to reopen their outdoor dining spaces -- under the condition that TVs must be turned off. Health officials explained in late January that the reason behind removing TVs is to prevent gatherings of sports fans, especially during Super Bowl Sunday.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: As outdoor dining resumes in LA County, health officials say TVs must remain off

The restaurant near Central LA dodged a county citation this weekend, unlike other businesses.

"The vast majority of the violations had to do with the outdoor structures that people put in place," said LA County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer on Monday. "There were a few violations associated with people having their television sets on when that’s not allowed right now and there were as well some violations for some workers not having the appropriate face covering."

At the same restaurant, the night before, a maskless bartender was spotted taking a swig from a liquor bottle while serving these girls inside, sharing food.  

Outside showed even bigger crowds, out on the sidewalk and waiting to get in. 

"If they weren't at my restaurant, they would be at a house party indoors," the owner said. "You could go 30 minutes down to Long Beach and watch the game. You could go to Pasadena and watch the game."

The restaurant owner told FOX 11 he scrambled to open for the big game, only to be told he can’t show it. 

"We roll out the Astroturf. I’m working 18 hours a day, building new tables. I run wires. I hang TV’s outside in the patio," he said.

He also said he spent a lot of time and money restocking and rehiring, only to find out he hasn't gotten the $25,000 grant from the city, which would have covered exactly a month of rent for his restaurant.

"300,000 other businesses got it. I didn’t get it. I got put on a waitlist. I just got a call from a lender, I was applying for the PPP money – they said I have to apply through another lender, they’ve maxed out the amount of applications they can accept," the owner said.

All while trying to support his family.

"I had to sell my house. I’m married, I have a child. I had to look at my wife and kid and tell them we’re moving in with my mom temporarily until we figure this out," he said. "Shut me down and I go under, because if I don't open, I'm going under anyways."

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