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Restaurant Owner Confronts Health Department Officer Over COVID-19 Restrictions

COVINA (CBSLA) -- A confrontation between a Covina restaurant owner and a Los Angeles County health inspector was caught on camera, showcasing the businessman's frustration with coronavirus restrictions.

"I'm desperate. Who is going to pay her car payment? Who is going to pay my cook's rent?" Carlos Roman was heard saying while his truck blocked the health inspector's car.

The incident happened last Sunday outside of Bread & Barley restaurant in Covina, where a health inspector came to make sure coronavirus guidelines were in place at the facility.

A citation from the health department said the inspector found two customers dining outside, which goes against current protocols.

Roman says they were on a public bench, and not his property.

"We weren't going out. We weren't serving them," Roman said.

Roman said he's been working hard to comply with the county health order, especially during the pandemic, and was upset that his actions to stay safe were being misrepresented.

"I think the pandemic is 100% real. My mom is recovering from covid right now," he said.

To keep his restaurant open, Roman, like many other restaurant owners, spent thousands of dollars for an outdoor patio for when outdoor dining was still allowed in L.A. County.

Operating at a deficit, he says he took money from his savings to keep his staff working and continue serving customers.

"I think we have entered into the realm of a lose-lose situation," Roman said.

Now after the confrontation with the health inspector, he is facing two $500 fines for failure to comply and interfering with the health officer.

Police had also responded to the incident to help calm the situation.

Video of the confrontation was posted to the restaurant's Facebook page.

Most of the comments were in support of Roman, and sympathetic to his frustrations.

Struggling to pay his own bills with limited operation, Roman said he hopes the county will ease coronavirus restrictions.

He helped build the restaurant, which has been open for seven years now, but he doesn't know how much longer it can remain open.

Some supporters of Roman have pledged to help the Bread & Barley restaurant financially and donated to his GoFundMe account, which has collected more than $12,000 so far.

Roman plans to use the money to keep the restaurant running, but is afraid it will only last for about a week based on their current operating costs.

In addition to spreading the word about his frustration, Roman also plans to appeal the citation and fines from the health department.

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