Beverly Hills denounces plans for 'discreet' dinner at La Scala

Matt Stiles
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 01, 2020 - A masked pedestrian walks past a large depiction of Mona Lisa wearing a mask in a display window of The Paley Center for Media during the coronavirus pandemic in Beverly Hills on December 1, 2020. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
A pedestrian wears a mask in Beverly Hills earlier this month. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Beverly Hills officials this week moved to thwart plans for a “speakeasy”-style New Year’s Eve dinner amid the coronavirus spike at one of the city’s venerable restaurants, reminding the management about Los Angeles County’s dining ban.

The officials were responding to an invitation sent to some area residents from La Scala, the fine-dining Italian restaurant on North Canon Drive in Beverly Hills, that appeared to signal plans for a secret dinner that would violate restrictions imposed by public health experts. The invitations were put inside the restaurant's take-out bags.

“Welcome back to the 20’s Prohibition,” read the message, in a formal cursive script. “We are considering taking reservations for New Year’s Eve dinner. Inside.”

The message continued, “Please keep this discreet, but tell all your friends.”

Keith Sterling, a spokesman for the city of Beverly Hills, told The Times by email that city officials contacted La Scala on Christmas Eve about the event to remind its management about restrictions in the county’s order.

“We understand this is an incredibly difficult time for all of our businesses,” the statement read, “however the County Order does currently prohibit indoor and outdoor dining, including in the City of Beverly Hills.”

The invitation, which was widely shared on Twitter, sparking scores of negative comments, had earlier prompted a reaction from the Beverly Hills Police Department.

The department posted that its code enforcement officials were aware and “handling the matter.”

Management at La Scala, an upscale eatery known for its chopped salad and famous customers, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. A message on the restaurant’s website said it was closed for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

The potential dinner event is the latest conflict between public health officials and local restaurants, who have been frustrated by the decision last month to reinstate the dining ban as California and Los Angeles County experienced a new spike of coronavirus cases.

The restrictions had previously prompted some of the 88 cities in the county to vent about potentially creating their own health departments in an effort to write their own rules.

The Beverly Hills City Council earlier this month adopted a resolution against the county’s ban, citing the “detrimental impact on local businesses” and a “lack of scientific evidence."

In September, La Scala posted an image on Instagram and complained about Beverly Hills Mayor Lester Friedman: “Hey … you’re hurting our Restaurants!”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.