We went to our favorite Italian restaurant, an old haunt located in Huntington Beach. We ordered to go online and motored down there, so proud of ourselves for patronizing a fine eatery in economic distress.
But when we arrived, we saw something that disappointed us. At a time when Americans – and Californians – are sickening and dying at record rates from the coronavirus, this place met the public health challenge by ignoring nearly all the limits placed on them by the state, county and regard for their fellow man.
As you know, we are in the purple “widespread” tier, which means that restaurants are limited to “to go” or delivery orders only. No outdoor dining, no “limited seating” indoor service.
Now, I know that some are pushing the limit by allowing patrons to get their takeout meals and consume them at the tables that appeared when outdoor dining was flourishing as a response to the coronavirus pandemic curbs on operations. It’s a small bending of the rules, and worthy of being winked at.
But at Our Favorite Place, they had pulled out almost all the stops in flouting all the rules. There was table service at the outdoor spaces, with some tables not more than three feet apart. Employees wore masks but most patrons did not.
And there was indoor dining too! The only thing they didn’t do was put a photo of Dr. Anthony Fauci up on a dartboard.
Now, I’m not totally insensitive to the impulses of a business operator who not only finds him- or herself sliding into debt and facing not only having to layoff dozens of faithful employees and even worry about making personal expenses.
But that’s a temporary situation. As heart-rending as it can be, how does that compare to the finality of death? By flouting the rules put in place to try to fight this deadly plague – and that’s what it is – this business is placing its employees and customers at risk.
We noted with a mix of amusement and shock the signs placed there. “Peaceful protest” one of them read, as if this was just a free speech issue and they weren’t actually taking money for the food and wine and more.
Another paper posted argued that all the coronavirus restrictions were totally illegal and null and void. I wonder if they feel the same way about about other health rules.
Of course, this place is not the worst offender. There’s another eatery in the same town that went so far as to actually ban the wearing of masks inside the restaurant.
So that’s where we are. To keep your business from dying, you have to take a chance on literally killing some of your customers.
It’s a scary idea, but we won’t worry much about it now. Our former favorite place, and we won’t be going back.
Jim Tortolano’s Retorts is posted on alternate Wednesdays.