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Up to 15 Percent of LA’s COVID-19 Cases Come From Dining at Restaurants

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Plus, Westside Tavern closes this weekend, and free PPE for restaurants in need

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Diners and server at an outdoor dining area
Diners and server at an outdoor dining area
Matthew Kang
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Los Angeles County health officials continued to say yesterday that sit-down restaurant and bar experiences are a contributing factor in the spread of the coronavirus. County public health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said in a press conference yesterday that LA County has “seen somewhere between 10 and 15 percent of cases being connected to a dining experience.” She added:

This makes sense, because when people go to restaurants and bars they often spend a prolonged period of time in the presence of others who are outside of their household without their face coverings, and often engaged in conversations. Those are all strategies for increasing the spread of COVID-19.

Furthermore, Dr. Ferrer said that “particularly indoors it becomes easier for this virus to spread.” Currently only outdoor sit-down dining is allowed at restaurants in Los Angeles County, though state officials could soon grant the county the ability to move a reduced percentage of diners indoors after meeting several health metrics, if it so chooses. Already neighboring counties Orange and Ventura have allowed indoor dining at a reduced capacity. Riverside County had granted indoor dining at 25 percent capacity but was then forced to close it off due to an upstick in COVID-19 cases.

Eater has reached out to the health department on the age of the statistics in question to get more information on the public health director’s view on the distinctions between indoor and outdoor dining, but so far has not heard back.

In other news:

  • Jerry’s Deli has closed in Studio City, while down on Pico Westside Tavern says that its last day of service will be October 31.
  • The ongoing Taste of Japan pop-up will come to the Trade Food Hall in Irvine on Friday, October 30. Expect items from vendors like Shin-Sen-Gumi, Kagura in Torrance, and TaNoTa, known for its takoyaki.
  • Need new PPE for workers? The Los Angeles Regional Small Business Development Center Network (funded by federal and state dollars) is doling out no-cost items across LA, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, including four million sets of face shields, masks, and hand sanitizer. Reach out directly to score some.
  • Pour Vida’s new Orange County location at the Center Street Promenade in Anaheim is now open. Owner Jimmy Martinez tells Eater that hours will run daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., with an extension to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday night. There are plans to grow the new, smaller Pour Vida brand around Orange County next year as well.
A restaurant with a yellow neon sign shows customers dining on tacos outside.
Pour Vida in Anaheim
Pour Vida
  • A new contemporary Oaxacan coffee shop is opening soon at the BLVD MRKT in Montebello. The shop, called Café Santo, is set to open this winter, working a menu that will include Oaxacan breakfast items, coffee, and chocolate drinks, among other dishes. The restaurant is currently seeking additional funds via IndieGoGo to finish its build out.
  • No indoor seating, no problem for Rossoblu, the Downtown Italian star. The restaurant has always has a prodigious patio setup, but now with winter coming the team is building a semi-permanent outdoor patio structure to guard against the elements.
  • This year’s election matters more than ever to restaurant workers, says Zagat in a humbling new piece about activism and human rights through the lens of Cassia restaurant co-owner Kim Luu-Ng, who is also a lawyer.
  • Bridgetown Roti is popping up at Bar Bandini on October 31, starting at 5 p.m. The menu for the evening is below.