LA County restaurant owners frustrated over dining ban

With L.A. County's ban on outdoor dining set to take effect, many local restaurant owners fear their business may not survive.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- With Los Angeles County's ban on outdoor dining set to take effect Wednesday night, many local restaurant owners fear their business may not survive as the region braces for another possible shutdown.

Aaron Robins has served barbecue for 15 years. He's the owner of Boneyard Bistro in Sherman Oaks.

Robins says his take-out business is helping, but the ban on restaurant dining is yet another blow to the industry.

"We all invested a lot of money into our outdoor spaces just to have them shut us down again," Robins said. "So, how do we recoup that money? We don't."

He says the timing of the ban will have a massive impact for restaurants that planned to serve Thanksgiving dinner with product already ordered.

"For the restaurants that do it, it's a massive revenue night unlike most and it's just literally the carpet got taken out from under them," Robins said.

The decision to shut down in-person dining was made by public health officers after the surge in COVID-19 cases. Restaurants can still offer takeout, drive-thru and delivery services under the new order.

With the recent surge, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer is recommending a targeted "stay-at-home order" that could limit capacity to 20% for non-essential indoor retail businesses. Masks and physical distancing would continue to be required. It is not clear when those restrictions could take effect.

Sidney Price, the co-owner of Noble Bird which opened less than a year ago in Long Beach, says offering take-out helps, but the outdoor patio allowed them to bring back their furloughed employees.

"Having the patio open at just 50% capacity has been vital to our success as a business, and having to shut that down (Wednesday) at 10 p.m. is just devastating," Price said.

The Long Beach Restaurant Association blasted the county and local health orders.

"By banning all outdoor dining during these colder winter months, people will instead host more indoor parties, which will undoubtedly lead to more infections," their statement said.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, who lost both parents to COVID-19, says he will push for more financial help for business owners, but he must take his duty to protect public health seriously.

"During the holiday season, having to tell some of our teammates we won't have hours for them, or we simply don't know what the future holds is crushing," Price said.
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