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LA County Struggles to Fully Enforce Mask Mandates at Restaurants

Plus, the fascinating history of chef Govind Armstrong, and the Crenshaw Mall is officially sold

Paper sign in a window reading “Masks are required. Thank you.” with an image of a disposable paper mask. Akerri/Shutterstock

Are local restaurants ignoring LA County’s public health order to remain masked indoors, or is the health department lacking in its enforcement? NBC-4 says in a new report that both may be happening, citing restaurants across the county with unmasked indoor diners and unmasked staffers alike. At Novo Cafe in Westlake Village, owner Massimo Forti told the news outlet that wearing a mask was a “sign of submission.”

Novo Cafe has been cited 60 times by the health department and owes $85,000 to $90,000 in fines; the health department also revoked Novo Cafe’s public health permit on February 2, 2021 for defying COVID-19 safety regulations. In addition, NBC-4 sent a hidden camera into Pico Cafe, Beverly Hills Bagel Company, and Escuela Taqueria restaurants to see if employees were abiding by the mask mandate, only to find that most were not.

The health department stated inspectors visited 1,874 businesses between August 14 through August 20 and reported that the majority are complying with the masking order. After informing Pico Cafe, Beverly Hills Bagel Company, and Escuela Taqueria of their findings, owners said they would enforce stricter protocols for mask-wearing — though Novo Cafe’s Forti has no plans to do so.

In other news:

  • Chef Govind Armstrong’s Los Angeles presence goes back decades, and the Robb Report details his career and influence starting as a 13-year-old working at Spago, to working with Mark Peel, and how he prepares his beloved gumbo at the Lobster.
  • City of Bell officials recently shut down Cudahy’s Patata Street night market in Southeast LA. It’s the second night market closing for street vendors after Los Angeles officials did the same to Northeast LA’s Avenue 26 night market three weeks ago. L.A. Taco reports that the two are now working together for larger street vending changes at the policy and government level.
  • After closing for a summer break, the desert rose of Yucca Valley, La Copine, is reopening soon, which means they’re also hiring.
  • Parklet dining on East LA city streets could become permanent writes The Eastsider, adding to a growing chorus of independent cities and LA neighborhoods eager to keep the outdoor dining spaces around for a long time.
  • The LA Times reports the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza mall has officially been sold to the Harridge Development Group for approximately $140 million, ending the longstanding battle between the developer and community group Downtown Crenshaw Rising.
  • Football season is upon us, and Pasadena restaurants are looking forward to seeing games return to the Rose Bowl. Pasadena Now spoke with the owners of Pie ‘n Burger, Barcelona, and iX-tapa Cantina about the impact on their businesses.
  • Funky black-and-white coffee shop Matte Black Coffee is hosting a grand opening party from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Saturday, August 28 at 1001 S. Broadway.

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