Local Brewery, Restaurant Owners Feel They Have Been Vilified By Health Inspectors During Pandemic
LANCASTER (CBSLA) — Bravery Brewing owner Brian Avary spoke out Monday about a video that showed the moment a Los Angeles County health inspector tried to shut down his Lancaster brewery.
"It was just kind of very jovial," he said. "That's kind of what has gotten to us, and these people just don't treat us like we're humans that have just been doing everything possible to not go out of business."
In the video, the health inspector can be seen making what appear to be some upbeat gestures in the process.
Avary said it all happened on Super Bowl Sunday, a busy day for most restaurants.
He said the inspector tried to shut them down because the brewery was open but was not serving food — which is mandated by Public Health if a brewery offers in-person dining. But Avary said his business was only offering to-go orders that day.
"She had no regard for us," he said. "It's like we're almost a criminal just trying to run our business."
The brewery was eventually found to have done nothing wrong and was allowed to stay open, but not before having to close for nearly an hour.
"Even the smallest amount of money means everything right now," Avary said.
Andrew Gruel, owner of Slapfish, helps run a COVID-19 relief fund for restaurant workers. He believes that agencies trying to control businesses during the pandemic are harassing them instead of helping them.
"We've seen this play out hundreds of times: what seems to be them working against local businesses as opposed to them working with local businesses," he said. "We're at the forefront of really fighting this from a retail perspective, and yet restaurants and bars really feel now that they've become vilified."
Avary, who is the vice president of the county's brewer's guild, said he was worried about restaurant owners who may not have all the resources to stand up for themselves.
"And when you have an imposing figure come in telling you you have to close, they're not gonna fight that," he said.
On Wednesday, Public Health said in a statement that it had reviewed the site visit report and video and found that the inspector "acted appropriately at all times."
"Public Health has reviewed the site visit report, the video posted on social media, and spoke with the inspector regarding their interaction with the owner of this business. Our assessment indicates that the inspector acted appropriately at all times during her conversations with the employee and the owner, which she viewed as productive and informative, and at no time combative. ... Since the brewery was only open for take-out beer sales that day, there was no discussion or threat of closure that day or any future day."
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