A restaurant owner in Covina, California blockaded the car of a health inspector attempting to enforce coronavirus-related lockdown orders, pleading with police to allow him and his employees to make a living.
Breda & Barley is a restaurant in the Los Angeles suburb of Covina. According to their website, they "are an upscale pub featuring gourmet food and craft-brewed beer and wine."
Owner Carlos Roman said that he has followed all health orders for the past seven years, including coronavirus-related restrictions. Yet the establishment received a word of warning from health inspectors last Sunday as they were seeking to enforce Governor Gavin Newsom's edict to ban restaurants from serving patrons indoors. This led to a confrontation between the owner and the police.
"[The health inspector] decided to come today and take pictures of people outside, and saying that he's going to fine us and we can't work out here," Roman complained to police. Justifying his decision to blockade the health inspectors' car, the owner declared "If I can't work, he can't work."
"This is what happens when people get desperate. I'm desperate. Who's going to pay [my employee's] parking? Who's going to pay my cook's rent?" the owner asked. "[The health inspector] needs to know how hard it is."
"Did you get a paycheck on Friday?" Roman asked the inspector. "Did you get a paycheck? My people don't. I bet you got a paycheck, didn't you? You're just doing your job, right? We're all in this together? When I go to the bank I can tell the bank the health department said it's ok? The health department said I don't have to pay you? The health department said I can't make a living?"
"What do I tell my employees?" Roman asked, noting that his cook just had a baby.
Police then informed Roman that a tow truck was on the way to tow his vehicle if he refused to move it.
"You're talking to somebody who is getting orders from his supervisor. I understand you're the owner for a business but this is not the way to settle things."
"What is?" Roman demanded.
"You can talk to a supervisor," the policewoman responded, to which Roman clapped back "I've been talking to supervisors for how long now?"
"What do I got to do? A bunch of f—king idiots burned down LA and everyone responds 'oh let's respond to that.' Is that what we have to do? We all have to march and go burn the f—king city down?"
Two days after the incident, the owner received a notice of closure from the Los Angeles Department of Public Health.
The notice of closure pointed to two health violations. The first violation was that the establishment allowed outdoor dining, which is banned in Los Angeles County, although the owner insists that the "outdoor dining" was taking place on municipal public benches which did not belong to him. According to Roman, the health inspector insisted that his establishment was responsible for forcing people off of city property.
"I have a patio on city property, it's not even my property, and he wants me to be the police," Roman complained. "He said if anyone is sitting on a f—king bench in front of your place, you have to tell them to leave. I'm not [police], that ain't my f—king job! He's going to give me a violation for that sh-t?"
The establishment also received a violation for "[interfering] with the duties of the Health Officer."
Despite a verbal spar with police in the video, the establishment later clarified on Instagram that they stand with police and vice versa. Police "have always supported bread and barley and have informed us they are 'NOT' enforcing these health orders," the restaurant said. "However they will enforce people blocking vehicles with their trucks."
A GoFundMe has since been set up to support the struggling restaurant.