LA bar defies excessive lockdown orders, refuses to shut down

Cronies Sports Grill, in Agoura Hills, Los Angeles County, are defying the orders against outdoor dining, and the fines are piling up.


California's extremely strict COVID-19 restrictions aren't enough for these bar owners to shut down. Cronies Sports Grill, in Agoura Hills, Los Angeles County, are defying the orders against outdoor dining, and the fines are piling up.

When COVID-19 restrictions in California once again banned outdoor seating for restaurants, Cronies decided to fly in the face of those guidelines, garnering multiple fines of over $1,000 and the removal of its license to operate.

Cronies has continued to serve customers on its outdoor patio despite having repeatedly received notice that the restaurant would face fines for its disregard of Los Angeles County COVID restrictions. Dave Foldes, the restaurant's owner, says the business will not survive if outdoor seating is removed.

"I don't think Agoura Hills is any greater of a COVID-19 threat," Foldes said. "We're outdoors, just like everyone else in the state has been doing. We're following safety guidelines for personal protective equipment, masks, face shields and sanitizing, all that. We feel our industry has been without scientific evidence, forced to close or to limit our abilities. It's not sustainable for us."

State health officials have visited the restaurant on three separate occasions, asking the venue to comply with state laws. Cronies has received at least three health violation fines.

Deborah Klein Lopez, a city councilmember for Agoura Hills, said in a Facebook post that the restaurant had now lost its health permit and would not allowed to continue operating in any capacity.

"The owners said they understood the order yet intended to continue patio dining service," Lopez said.

"Due to continued violations, Public Health suspended Cronies' health permit, meaning they are now prohibited from operating at all. Currently, they have no permit to operate indoor, outdoor, OR provide curbside/take out/delivery. In addition, due to having no valid health permit, Cronies will be subject to losing their business license and liquor license."

Cronies won't be the only restaurant that plans to defy state lockdowns. Andrew Gruel, owner of 27 venues on California's coast, says he believes the state's restrictions are unscientific and arbitrary, according to the Washington Times.

"At every single juncture along the way here from the beginning shutdown to today, we've listened to all the advice of our government officials only to be shut down over and over and over again and then not compensated for the elements that we put in place in our businesses to protect our customers," Gruel said.

Gruel and Foldes join a growing group of business owners in California whose frustration is becoming outright noncompliance.

One restaurant owner in Los Angeles showed the blatant nonsensical nature of the shutdown guidelines, filming her now shutdown outdoor dining patio right next to an open, operational, craft services table for a movie company.

State restrictions, put in place this past weekend, will last for the next three weeks, cut down store capacity, and prohibit on-site service. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told residents that it was time to "cancel everything," and issued detailed guidance as to what Angelinos can and cannot do.


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