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LA Judge Orders County Officials to Provide Evidence for Outdoor Dining Ban

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Plus, lots of new food to eat across the city, and an $800 check from the mayor for food service workers

A person takes away food from an LA restaurant
Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP 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.

Los Angeles County public health officials are now being told that they must “answer questions” when it comes to the joint decision to shut down outdoor dining at restaurants over concerns of steeply rising coronavirus case numbers. A slew of lawsuits, from individual operators and from the California Restaurant Association, have landed in the LA court system over last week’s on-site outdoor dining ban, with most groups asking for discernible data that shows a definitive link between rising case COVID-19 case numbers and outdoor dining — though specifically tying any community spread to restaurants isn’t precisely why the LA Department of Public Health and the county Board of Supervisors closed on-site dining in the first place.

Per the LA Times and others, L.A. County Superior Court Judge James Chalfant is now giving public health officials one week to make a data-driven case as to why restaurants should remain closed for on-site dining for at least the next week. “You have to do a risk-benefit analysis for public health,” Chalfant said in court. “You don’t just talk about the risk of spreading disease. You have to talk about the benefit of keeping restaurants open.” The next hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, December 8, though it’s unclear what, if any, steps the judge could force county officials to take.

In other news:

  • Little Tokyo restaurant Ebisu is closing after 15 years. The restaurant announced the upcoming shutter on social media yesterday, saying the last day of service will be Wednesday, December 30.
  • Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a round of $800 stipend payments for food-service workers yesterday. Per the Times, the one-time payments are available for anyone “in food service industries, including restaurants, breweries and food stands,” though the fund is only open for up to 4,000 city residents who are “18 or older and have 2019 income of $58,450 or less.” Applications open on Monday.
  • The takeout window at Guerrilla Tacos in the Arts District is back for some evening action, as the restaurant turns to a new takeout restaurant called Biggie’s Burgers. Expect slider-like burgers on Hawaiian rolls, available in different lengths (two, three, or four buns, etc.), plus fries and dessert. The first day of official service is December 8, with hours from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Historic Filipinotown restaurant HiFi Kitchen is partnering with from the Black Eyed Peas on a charity initiative this weekend. Bowls of adobo will be sold in packs of two for $50, with funds going to help typhoon victims in the Philippines.
  • The folks behind Take a Bao have launched Take a Salad, a ghost concept that focuses on the restaurant’s popular salads like the Chinese chicken salad. Available in Century City and Studio City.
  • Weston Ludeke and Evan Charest have taken over the Brite Spot diner in Echo Park, and for the holiday season they’re turning the place into a pie-making and cocktail factory called Drunk on Pie. Orders should be made in advance via Tock, and can be picked up at Severance on Melrose or at Brite Spot.
  • A Midwestern-inspired hot dog (and other stuff) pop-up is coming to Bar Bandini this Sunday, December 6, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Expect Chicago-style hot dogs, Italian beef, and more, plus pork tenderloin sandwiches, fries, and casseroles — and wine of course.