Opinion: Frustration and Anger at LA County’s New Restaurant Closure Order

The Abbey, 692 N. Robertson Blvd.

These new forced closures and curfews will put many small businesses, already on the verge of total collapse, out of business for good. The hospitality industry has been given the blame and a huge burden with all of these restrictions. We’re good operators, who follow all the guidelines and take things even further to ensure that our staff and guests are safe.

County health officials are implementing these new changes because of the people who won’t follow the guidelines. The people not following the guidelines are the reason I have to lay off my entire staff for the holidays. Right now, the closure is for three weeks, but we all know it will extend through the New Year. There is no relief coming from Congress or the White House until after the Inauguration.

It’s particularly hard for LGBTQ+ spaces going into the holidays. We’re more than just a restaurant, we’re a safe space for people to celebrate the holidays. As we’ve seen with the election, LGBTQ+ people are still not safe everywhere in the United States. The Abbey has helped people feel welcomed and loved during the holidays for almost 30 years. We’re doing everything we can to offer more take-out and to-go options, including Thanksgiving dinners.

The City of West Hollywood, City Manager Paul Arevalo and West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Genevieve Morrill have been doing what they can to help us. Paul and The City funded barricades and made permitting easy for restaurants to take over more outdoor space. Many businesses, including mine, invested even further to take advantage of outdoor space, turning alleys and parking spots into safe dining spaces.

Now, all of that investment is wasted. The rules keep changing and we’ve followed every guideline. We had code compliance and the health department visit us this weekend and told us we were in full compliance. They were impressed that our entire management team was able to recite the new regulations that had been just released that morning. We’re trying to make it work, but we can’t do it alone.

Most of our guests are happy to follow the guidelines and safety protocols. Every day we see overly entitled people who don’t think the virus will come for them and don’t think they have any part to play in stopping its spread. We have a zero-tolerance policy for people who won’t wear their masks when entering and exiting or won’t stay seated while they dine with us. We ask them to leave immediately. It is sad and upsetting, that some people just believe they are above the law.

The curfews and closures won’t stop inconsiderate people. When the curfew went into effect, we saw guests leave our restaurant at 10 p.m. and invite everyone to the after party at their house. People who refuse to wear a mask, socially distance and limit their gatherings to immediate households, are responsible for putting all these people out of work. All of those people will find new ways to ignore the safety protocols and continue to spread the virus. My business, and many others like it, are forced to pay the price for their selfish, ignorant and shameful behavior.

The fastest way to get everyone back to work and to save as many small businesses as possible is to eliminate the virus. Wear a mask, social distance, don’t gather in large groups, even during the holidays and wash your hands regularly.

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hifi5000
hifi5000
1 month ago

I have seen suggestions that wait staff such as bartenders at restaurants be given stimulus money to tie them over for any county shutdowns.

Unfortunately,our wonderful federal government is deadlocked in negotiations to continue any such relief.Maybe it is time to get on the horn to our representatives to get them moving on such business,then it won’t be such a burden to close bars and restaurants.We will than be assured such wait staff can be provided for.

Save West Hollywood Business
Save West Hollywood Business
1 month ago

Let us have a demonstration that means something. Serve anyway. The sheriff won’t arrest anyone. Show these three dreadful useless political hacks… Sheila Kuehl, Mark Ridley-Thomas and Hilda Solis. We have no interest in what they say or dictate. They are now the enemy and must be voted out of office.  

greeneyedboy
greeneyedboy
1 month ago

Please wear a mask. Or we will be in the mess for even longer.

WeHoldTheseTruths
WeHoldTheseTruths
1 month ago
Reply to  greeneyedboy

Get a new comeback.

WehoBob
WehoBob
1 month ago

RESIST!!!

The Real Zam
1 month ago

Here’s another idea. Get the names and contact info on those who dine out. Systems like open table already do this. You can add info for those who show up. Customers can even add their own information. Follow up later to ask if these people are still infected. I could put together a web form to do this in a few hours. David, if your there I’d do it for free. We simply cannot afford to stay closed with no hope of further assistance.

WeHo Poster
WeHo Poster
1 month ago
Reply to  The Real Zam

That’s exactly right–people need money to stay home. The federal government can and should pay people to stay home. It is a policy choice to make people go to work during a pandemic. Guess what? People are catching the virus at work. They should be paid to stay home

Ham Shipey
Ham Shipey
1 month ago
Reply to  WeHo Poster

where’s the money coming from?

The Real Zam
1 month ago

David, you have done a great job opening your business during these unprecedented times for our industry. It is so sad that all of the hard work that you and everyone else at The Abbey, along with that of many other businesses in the industry, have put in to open safely is all for naught. Especially during the season when members of the LGBT community need our gathering places the most. The county needs to refocus on the real problem, private gatherings in people’s homes. Ban all INDOOR gatherings between households period. Limit outdoor ones. Make landlords and property management… Read more »

Peter T
Peter T
1 month ago
Reply to  The Real Zam

The Abbey hasn’t been a LGBT gathering spot for over a decade! It’s become just like Lisa Vanderpumps bars- restaurants that attract heterosexual female tourists and their reluctant boyfriends. Cooley sold out years ago.

In any case, with the prices they charge, I’m sure Cooley has enough $ to carry him over for another year

I am so with you we owe Mike you hit it Dave Osuna
I am so with you we owe Mike you hit it Dave Osuna
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter T

You are so wrong Peter absolutely disgustingly wrong when was the last time you were there while I agree pump and Sir and Tom Tom have become tourist tractions but not the Abbey the Abbey is different…David and Todd have done a great job of making sure the LGBT community is still welcome and I for one had been a regular at least once a week during this pandemic and never ever did I ever feel that it was touristy

Observer
Observer
1 month ago

Are you serious? I don’t know what you consider “touristy” but, to me, it has become a mecca for out of towners and drunk straight women.

No Way Jose
No Way Jose
1 month ago

During the pandemic I wouldn’t do a weho “restaurant” even with your mask.

WeHo Poster
WeHo Poster
1 month ago

The federal government can and should pay people to stay home during the pandemic

Dave B.
Dave B.
1 month ago

I don’t see any West Hollywood or Los Angeles political figures condemning the mass celebrations that took place on November 7th up and down Santa Monica Blvd. No social distancing, few masks, yelling and shouting, and sharing bottles of champagne. Yet, you better be in your house by 10pm and you can’t eat outdoors even while social distancing. The hypocrisy is deafening.

greeneyedboy
greeneyedboy
1 month ago
Reply to  Dave B.

Look I totally think it’s fair to criticize the celebrations. But you are 100% LYING when you said “few masks”. Almost everyone was wearing a mask. There is plenty of photographic evidence to back this up as well.

Jim Nasium
Jim Nasium
1 month ago
Reply to  greeneyedboy

You’ve said that enough to believe it.

greeneyedboy
greeneyedboy
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Nasium

Care to prove me wrong then? Or would you like me to link you every video and picture showing that i’m right 🙂

Jim Nasium
Jim Nasium
1 month ago
Reply to  greeneyedboy

No thanks

greeneyedboy
greeneyedboy
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Nasium

Evidence is scary to some I guess?

WeHoldTheseTruths
WeHoldTheseTruths
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Nasium

greeneyedboy works for wehoville.

Jay
Jay
1 month ago
Reply to  greeneyedboy

Agreed green eyed boy! I walked down the Blvd and back with my fur baby that afternoon, kn95 masked and keeping my distance and quiet.

Saw vast majority masked( just wished it wasn’t so crowded in front of Beaches- people were watching Biden and Harris speak on their outdoor monitors.)

greeneyedboy
greeneyedboy
1 month ago
Reply to  Jay

I was around there too! Didn’t stay long and tried to keep distant. Was a much needed relief after the last 4 years of idiocy.

Jay
Jay
1 month ago
Reply to  greeneyedboy

Amen to that, green eyed boy!

WeHoldTheseTruths
WeHoldTheseTruths
1 month ago
Reply to  Jay

Save it Jay. You always support greeneyedboy.

Tom Smart
Tom Smart
1 month ago
Reply to  greeneyedboy

Correct! Checkout this vid of the Biden celebration…
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_yPOr2LZHDw

Gdaddy
Gdaddy
1 month ago
Reply to  Dave B.

Yeah I went (masked, outside and distanced), and at least 90% of the people were masked…unlike the weekly Saturday Trump rallies for some reason in Beverly Hills (where most of the protestors come up in a caravan from Orange County). Have pictures to prove it! Keep up with the false narrative tough!

Dave B
Dave B
1 month ago
Reply to  Gdaddy

Honey. Bless yourself. It’s not Trump vs the Alzheimer’s guy. It’s about freedom and choice. As Gavin dines at The French Laundry. You get what you vote for fool.

Jim Nasium
Jim Nasium
1 month ago

Mr Cooley should become an ambassador to the many other Weho restaurants who are NOT complying as well as he says he is.

J S
J S
1 month ago

The problem is that health officials have been setting unrealistic “abstinence only” type policies that are often counterproductive, as we know they are with sex and drugs. The focus must be on protecting the vulnerable and essential workers who live with the vulnerable, and on targeting our society’s inequalities. Young people are not immune. But those spending Thanksgiving or other gatherings with elderly family members are multiplying the risk exponentially, compared to gathering with their healthy peers. If health officials and politicians would work with the public to protect people at greater risk, this pandemic would do far less damage.

Jake W
Jake W
1 month ago

I am wondering if the City of West Hollywood can/should do something about gay bars going under due to pandemic closure? I am more talking about Gold Coast and Rage, for example, which were spaces essential to the culture and history of the city.

Jay
Jay
1 month ago

Hi David- I feel for you and your staff. It did not go unnoticed that you chose to shut down in March before it was required, out of an abundance of caution, while Rocco’s packed them in for a few more dangerous days. I also previously complimented you in this forum for your chic alley makeover. And I have long sang the praises of Todd, your brilliant choice for general manager. A local resident, he is an asset to our community, like you. I have no doubt that your establishment was in compliance, as you state. Unfortunately the L.A. County… Read more »

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