Officials today cut off gas service to a Long Beach restaurant whose owner has repeatedly refused to shut down her outdoor patio, in defiance of COVID-19 health regulations.
Dana Tanner, who owns Restauration on Fourth Street, was already facing criminal charges for continuing dine-in service at the restaurant, but today marked another escalation in the city’s effort to shut her down.
Around 3 p.m. Saturday, city workers showed up to Restauration, turned off the gas and locked the valve, according to Tanner, who said she was still in the middle of serving brunch.
“I had two tables left,” she said.
Tanner has already racked up six separate fines, had her health permit revoked and is now facing misdemeanor charges for staying open, according to the city.
Nevertheless, Tanner said she plans to reopen as soon as she can get her kitchen running on electricity.
“I’m trying for this evening,” she said in a phone interview. “I’m literally at Home Depot and Lowe’s right now trying to figure out what I can do.”
City officials previously threatened to shut off Tanner’s water if she didn’t comply with the health order. Tanner said she thinks they resorted to turning off her gas because her water is routed in a way that cutting it off would also affect a neighboring building.
Long Beach spokesman Kevin Lee said the city resorted to turning off Restauration’s gas after warning Tanner that would be the next step if she continued to operate in violation of COVID-19 rules.
Tanner first ran afoul of state and local health regulations when Restauration hosted a dinner on New Year’s Eve that was advertised as including an open bar and DJ.
After rebukes from the city, Tanner continued offering table service and hosted a meeting urging other business owners to join her in defiance.
Despite a ban on all dine-in service across Southern California, Tanner has said she believes she can operate safely on her outdoor patio.
Tanner says she’s motivated to stay open in order to keep providing paychecks to her employees.
Previously, city officials say they’ve taken such drastic enforcement actions against Tanner only because of her “continued flagrant violations” of the city’s health order, which is intended to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Earlier this week, Long Beach City Prosecutor Doug Haubert charged her with four misdemeanor counts, two each for violating the local health order and the state’s regional stay-at-home order. The move was a first for Long Beach, which has relied mostly on education and voluntary compliance.
The maximum penalty for each criminal violation is six months in county jail and a $1,000 fine, although Haubert said Tanner would likely only be sentenced for either the state or city violations, not both, if she’s found guilty.
Her first court hearing on the charges is scheduled for next month.