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Furious Restaurant Owner Asks Health Inspector One Perfect Question

A furious California restaurant owner, allegedly being issued a citation for staying open, confronted public health inspectors and asked if they would be paying rent for him.

Anton Van Happen owns Nick The Greek in downtown Ventura, California, a city west of Los Angeles, KEYT-TV reported.

Van Happen and several other restaurant owners decided to protest the outdoor dining ban that had gone into effect following California’s new Stay-At-Home order in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“My calling is to all the other restaurant owners to open your restaurants,” he said.

“If we all open up they can’t do anything.”

His outdoor patio was reportedly crowded Thursday night in support of the protest.

A video posted on Twitter showed a verbal altercation that occurred when he confronted health inspectors on Monday who allegedly issued him a citation for operating after they suspended his permit for staying open.

“I followed the rules! I continued to follow the rules and you guys still, time after time, are giving me citations, telling me I have to close my business!” he said. “I did not break any rule!”

The female inspector told him he wasn’t following the rules, but he pushed back against the Health Department’s process to ensure that his business is following the new rules.

“I have to close my business for that time. Who’s gonna — are you gonna pay my rent? Are you gonna pay my rent?” he asked.

Van Happen then detailed the specifics of his protest, maintaining that he did not serve anyone who was sitting on his patio.

“I chose to protest by putting my tables outside and I reiterated that. I never sold one single person outside. I did all take-out food and delivery so what exactly I was supposed to be doing,” he said.

“It’s not by law that you cannot sit outside and eat; that’s not law, that’s a form that I was given.”

The male inspector told him that Van Happen’s permit had been suspended, so the restaurant was already closed.

Jan Holguin, the owner of Casa Bella restaurant, said last week’s protest was in response to a ruling from Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant who found that LA County health officials acted “arbitrarily” and without a proper “risk-benefit” analysis with their outdoor dining ban, but did not immediately restore in-person dining.

“By failing to weigh the benefits of an outdoor dining restriction against its costs, the county acted arbitrarily and its decision lacks a rational relationship to a legitimate end,” Chalfant wrote in his ruling, according to KABC-TV.

“We have complied and we did shut down,” Holguin said to KEYT. “We have been following the California Restaurant Association and the case came down in LA that the judge decided that outdoor dining was safe, and the science was not there and that was a decision for us to decide to reopen on Wednesday night.”

“I am friends with every restaurant owner in downtown and they all came on Wednesday night,” he added. “Everyone wants to open, safely, following the protocols, and doing it correctly. If we don’t we might have thousands of people in our city that will not have a Christmas this year.”

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