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State Senators Call on Newsom to Classify Restaurants as Essential, Allow Them to Reopen

Plus, another well-known LA vegan restaurant closes for good, and Bay Cities drops the collaboration of the year

Gov. Gavin Newsom, Dodger Stadium, Secretary of State (CA) Alex Padilla, Dodger owner Peter Guber, Dodger President/CEO Stan Kasten, and Fernando Valenzuela
Gov. Gavin Newsom
Carolyn Cole/ Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
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.

As the current state-mandated stay-at-home order continues, more and more restaurants, regions, and entire city governments are pushing back against the ban on outdoor dining. In Los Angeles County alone, some areas like Manhattan Beach have tried to flout the Department of Public Health indirectly, while others like Tinhorn Flats are loudly continuing to serve food both indoors and out, even as the threat of license revocation looms. In Orange County, groups of restaurants are banding together under one banner to stay open, hoping that the coordinated response keeps public health officials at bay. Up in the small tourist city of Solvang in Santa Barbara County, public officials have formally filed to keep restaurants and other businesses open and seating customers, with the city council saying the restaurants should be allowed to “go about their business,” no matter what the state tells them.

Yesterday a group of California state senators publicly urged Gov. Gavin Newsom in a signed letter to allow restaurants to reopen. The 11-person group, consisting of both state Democrats and Republicans, asked the governor to classify restaurants as essential and to allow them to resume outdoor on-site dining while following protocols, noting in the letter that “these essential businesses do more than simply provide a place to eat. Restaurants are active participants in local neighborhoods, providing meals to senior citizens and working with food banks to feed families to put food on their tables.” It’s unclear what, if any, actions the governor’s office may take.

Currently in the Southern California region, ICU bed capacity is falling rapidly (and is already well below five percent), as COVID-19 cases continue to soar. Public health officials say the worst is still coming.

In other news:

  • The fine folks at Santa Monica Brew Works have managed to pull off the collaboration of the year, partnering with LA favorite Bay Cities on a pair of bespoke IPAs called the Godmother and the Works. The beers themselves are actually brewed in part with freshly-baked bread from the deli, and are available starting this Friday.
  • Popular Echo Park plant-based restaurant Counterpart Vegan has closed. The restaurant was home to chef Mimi Williams’ innovative vegan tasting menu (while also functioning as a daytime cafe for the neighborhood), but ownership says the lack of outdoor dining and ability to work with the landlord on financial solutions to move forward created a situation that was simply unworkable. The restaurant’s farewell notice is below, along with a GoFundMe to help support Williams’ dream to reopen the restaurant elsewhere down the line.
  • The newly-reopened Twohey’s in South Pasadena is now doing curbside carhop service, where customers pull into a reserved space for pickup and their food is brought right out to their vehicle for dining.
  • Marketplace spoke with Lydia Clarke of DTLA Cheese about the slowdown of her business inside Grand Central Market. Clarke says she’s facing numerous struggles as a business owner (including only seeing about one-tenth of her usual customer base), but is trying to keep a smile on her face.
  • Mid-Wilshire restaurant Commerson is open once again, and chef/owner Sascha Lyon is cooking up a variety of dishes for the holidays including a la carte three-bone, eight-pound rib roasts for $185, individual holiday dinners for $45, and mascarpone cakes. Order in advance.
  • Santa Monica French restaurant Pasjoli is gearing up for an interactive Zoom wine dinner this weekend. The plan is to sell take-home meals and six-ounce pours of wine, running $85 for two courses, and $110 for three (per person).