The owner of a restaurant in Ventura, California, exploded in anger at a couple of health department workers who issued him a citation Monday over his refusal to close and thus "breaking" the "law."
A news outlet's video camera was already at Nick the Greek for an interview with owner Anton Van Happen — and it picked up the highlights of him reading the riot act to the officials enforcing far-left Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom's new COVID-19 order requiring restaurants to serve only takeout and delivery.
Image source: YouTube screenshot
"Are you gonna pay my rent?" Van Happen hollered at the officials.
"Are you going to pay my rent ? says owner Anton Van Happen of 'Nick The Greek' to public health inspectors issuing… https://t.co/OLzzco4hR5— Jorge Ventura Media (@Jorge Ventura Media)1608005773.0
One health department worker accused the restaurant owner of "not following the rules" — stemming from Van Happen's protest last week inviting patrons to sit at tables outside the restaurant after receiving their takeout orders.
"I followed the rules! I continue to follow the rules and you guys still, time after time, are giving me citations, telling me I have to close my business! What about my employees?" Van Happen asked the visiting health department workers.
One worker noted that "there is a law that you're breaking right now by operating without a permit."
"Because you guys put this closure on my restaurant!" Van Happen shot back. "So you guys yourselves are creating your own rule. And you're giving out citations for your own rule that's created. It's not by law that you cannot sit outside and eat; that's not law."
The other worker told Van Happen that his restaurant "is already closed. The permit has been suspended."
Here is the moment public health issues Anton Van Happen the owner of 'Nick The Greek' in Ventura a citation for re… https://t.co/8t5ahy2ylV— Jorge Ventura Media (@Jorge Ventura Media)1608007522.0
Some bright spots
It was looking pretty bleak Monday, but amid the fiery confrontation there were at least two bright spots.
First, a customer standing just outside the restaurant's doorway boiled over in frustration at the health department workers and told them to leave.
"Why aren't you guys at Costco right now? There's 500 people inside Costco!" the customer yelled. "There are 100 people inside Walmart! What are you doing? Just get out! No one wants you here! Go away! Nobody wants you here!"
The customer's gesture earned him a round of applause from those within earshot:
"Why aren't you at Costco right now, there's 500 people inside Costco" a customer of 'Nick The Greek' says to publi… https://t.co/vrcb2uA1kS— Jorge Ventura Media (@Jorge Ventura Media)1608006802.0
And then there was this cool moment:
After the public health inspectors left Anton's restaurant 'Nick The Greek', someone who was watching my livestream… https://t.co/UTeK7j3BWK— Jorge Ventura Media (@Jorge Ventura Media)1608008103.0
KEYT-TV spoke to Van Happen last week after he staged his outdoor seating protest.
Image source: YouTube screenshot
"I am trying to start something where all restaurant owners are going to wake up," he told the station, adding that "my calling is to all the other restaurant owners to open your restaurants. If we all open up, they can't do anything."
Downtown Ventura restaurants defying stay-at-home order youtu.be