LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Although restaurants are scheduled to reopen for outdoor dining on Friday, Los Angeles County is suing two restaurants for allegedly ignoring the outdoor dining ban put in place in late November to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit filed Wednesday is aimed at Cronies Sports Grill on Kanan Road in Agoura Hills and the Tinhorn Flats Saloon & Grill on Magnolia Boulevard in Burbank.
The suit asks for an abatement order directing both restaurants to bring their businesses into compliance with the health orders and to allow inspectors to enter to ensure compliance.
The suit also seeks civil penalty assessments against the businesses for each day they allegedly did not abide by the health directives.
The Office of Countywide Communications issued a statement explaining why the suit was filed two days before the outdoor dining ban is lifted.
"The complaint asks the court to order the defendants ... to comply with the health officer orders to safeguard the health of our county's residents during this devastating public health emergency," the statement said. "We do not take this action lightly. However, as the complaint notes, `defendants' actions constitute a public nuisance and must be stopped."'
Both businesses were given repeated notices, written directives, citations and appeals to "do the right thing" and comply voluntarily with the health officer mandates, the statement explained.
Cronies Sports Grill in Agoura Hills was cited 13 times in December alone. The owner has been outspoken about his defiance of shutdowns by the state.
Thousands of other businesses have stepped up to do their part to protect the public's health during an unprecedented emergency, according to the county statement.
"We are grateful that they are doing the right thing to help our county through this unprecedented and dangerous time," the statement said.
In December, the outdoor dining ban was superseded by the regional stay-at-home order which took effect for all of Southern California, restricting restaurants across the region to take out and delivery only.
On Dec. 2, public health inspectors observed 18 to 22 customers eating and drinking on Cronies' outdoor patio and also saw that a closure notice that had been posted on the front door the day before was no longer visible from the outside because a banner camouflaged it, the suit states.
A protest was then held after inspectors with the L.A. County Department of Public Health and the city warned Cronies to stop serving customers outdoors.
On Dec. 15, a public health inspector saw more than 25 customers dining in the outdoor patio of the Tin Horn Flats restaurant, the suit states.
No one answered the phone at the Tinhorn Flats restaurant and a woman who answered the phone at Cronies said no managers were available to comment.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)
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