Carlos Roman, a restaurant owner in Los Angeles, refused to move his vehicle blocking a health inspector’s car after the county official threatened him with lockdown citations for allowing patrons to eat their food outside his shop in Covina.
“This isn’t about me,” said the Bread and Barley restauranteur, referring to his employees who can’t make ends meet because of government restrictions wreaking havoc on their livelihoods. “They can’t pay their bills. The cook just had a baby — he’s with his family right now.”
Soon thereafter, a police officer showed up. She told Roman a tow truck was on its way to move his vehicle from behind the health inspector’s car. She went on to explain to the struggling business owner that it isn’t the health inspector’s “fault” that his restaurant and staff are suffering as a result of intense lockdown restrictions put in place by California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, both of whom are Democrats.
The cop repeatedly reprimanded Roman for blocking the government agent and told him to step away and remove his vehicle. For his part, Roman told the officer and the inspector he needed to make money to pay his bills and put food on the table for his children.
Neither government official seemed moved by his pleas.
“We’re all in this together; we’ll just all starve to death and die,” Roman said.
What’s the backstory?
According to a report from KCBS-TV, the unnamed health inspector arrived at Bread and Barley last Sunday, when he took photos of patrons eating their food outside Roman’s restaurant. The government worker reportedly threatened citations related to far-reaching government mandates.
Roman explained in a subsequent video that the inspector found two customers who were eating outside on a public bench that doesn’t belong to him.
“We weren’t out,” he explained. “We weren’t serving them.”
The restauranteur said he has been working consistently to comply with the government’s ever-evolving mandates. He even explained he is not denying the risks of COVID-19, telling KCBS-TV, “I think the pandemic is 100% real. My mom is recovering from COVID right now.”
In hopes of keeping his restaurant open, Roman poured thousands of dollars into retrofitting his outdoor space into a patio suited for dining. Additionally, despite continuing to lose money, he dug into his personal savings to help keep his staff working and continuing to serve the customers he had.
Then Garcetti banned outdoor dining.
“I think we have entered into the realm of a lose-lose situation,” Roman said.
A GoFundMe page supporting Roman’s restaurant and his employees has raised more than $37,000 at the time this article was published.
In a similar exchange earlier this month with another California small business owner, a restauranteur in Ventura, Anton Van Happen, asked health inspectors if they are “gonna pay my rent,” noting the heavy handed government orders are destroying his business.
Yet another L.A. restaurant owner, Angela Marsden, said she is “losing everything” because of Garcetti’s intense edicts against free enterprise — unless it’s for a business the mayor has deemed “essential,” like Hollywood production houses.
“Everything I own is being taken away from me and they set up a movie company right next door to my outdoor patio, which is right over here. And people wonder why I’m protesting and why I have had enough.”
As for Garcetti, he has made clear he has no plans to ease up his unilateral orders. He said his mandates “couldn’t be simpler,” later noting he will not reverse his edicts because they are “necessary.”