Still refusing to close patio dining, Restauration could now face eviction

Restauration, the Fourth Street restaurant that has openly spurned Long Beach’s health orders by reopening its patio, could now be facing eviction after an escalating series of crackdowns by the city failed to shut it down.

With no gas, no health permits and a looming criminal case, Restauration’s owner, Dana Tanner, was defiant Monday as she got ready to reopen Tuesday morning.

“You should be ashamed of yourself,” a woman walking by said as Tanner unlocked her restaurant’s front door.

“That’s the second time that’s happened,” Tanner said, sitting down at the counter as her chef prepped the next day’s menu.

After the city fined her six times, pulled her health permit, charged her with four misdemeanors and shut off her gas, Tanner says she’s still pressing forward with patio dining and a limited menu that can be cooked on electric appliances.

But it’s unclear how long that will last. On Monday, Tanner said, she could be facing eviction.

Dana Tanner on the phone while at her restaurant, Restauration, in Long Beach on January 25, 2021. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

As it does in public nuisance cases, the city recently sent Tanner’s landlord a notice that they could face penalties if she continues to violate the rules on the property, according to a city official.

One of the landlords, Louise Montgomery, declined to comment when contacted by the Post because of the possibility of a lawsuit. But Tanner said her landlords informed her that eviction could be on its way soon.

Now, “I’m in limbo,” Tanner said.

The threat comes on the same day state and county officials announced they planned to roll back some coronavirus restrictions—including the ban on outdoor dining. Hours after Tanner said she’d reopen regardless of the rules, Long Beach announced it would begin allowing outdoor dining on Tuesday.

“I just want to run my business,” Tanner said Monday, as she waited for word from city officials.

Whatever happens, that seems unlikely, with Tanner’s health permit already revoked and four misdemeanor charges pending against her for “numerous incidents where code inspectors went to the restaurant and saw clear violations of the COVID orders,” as City Prosecutor Doug Haubert put it.

More broadly, Restauration has become a flashpoint after Long Beach officials denounced Tanner for “continued flagrant violations” of the city’s health order during a time when COVID-19 patients had overwhelmed local hospitals.

“We’re the villain in a lot of people’s narratives,” said Devin Meyer, Restauration’s executive chef. “They think it’s about greed but it’s really about survival.”

Tanner, who previously received a $71,600 loan from the federal Paycheck Protection Program to help keep her business afloat, said she would have had to shut down if she hadn’t defied the dine-in ban. She said she’s trying to apply for a new PPP loan now and currently not making any profit—just staying afloat enough to pay her employees.

“We couldn’t sustain the business on takeout alone,” according to Meyer, who said they’ve been able to rehire about five kitchen hands since illegally reopening the patio.

Meyer said he decided to keep working for Tanner in part because his unemployment ran out. He and his wife, who is also out of work, are trying to take care of their 8-month-old daughter, and if it weren’t for Restauration, they wouldn’t have income.

“A paycheck is definitely part of it,” Meyer said.

Tanner’s feud with the city reached new heights Sunday when someone ran an unauthorized gas line to her kitchen after the restaurant’s gas had been shut off.

Dana Tanner, center, owner of Restauration, speaks with Long Beach police and gas department employees while they investigate a reported leak, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2020. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

A leak from the line prompted neighbors to report it, fearing an explosion.

Despite neighbors saying they saw her tinkering with the meter, Tanner said she had no involvement with installing the hose other than joking with a supportive neighbor that she would love it if someone could find a way to get her gas back.

Tanner says it’s just a sign of the support she’s received from some quarters, which so far includes about $8,000 in donations from fans and supporters.

Her response to the others, who think she should be ashamed of herself?

“I don’t think there’s anything I can tell them,” Tanner said. “Just, you don’t know me.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated with Long Beach’s announcement on outdoor dining.

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Jeremiah Dobruck is the breaking news editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his journalism career in 2007 as an intern at Palos Verdes Peninsula News and has worked for The Forum Newsgroup in New York City, the Daily Pilot and the Press-Telegram. He lives in Torrance with his wife, Lindsey, and their two young children.
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