Los Angeles restaurant owner’s tearful response to lockdown goes viral

Angela Marsden, owner of a Los Angeles restaurant, went viral with her video showing the catering of a film set, while her restaurant patio was closed (Angela Marsden)
Angela Marsden, owner of a Los Angeles restaurant, went viral with her video showing the catering of a film set, while her restaurant patio was closed (Angela Marsden)

A California restaurant owner whose tearful video complaining about her patio being closed, while a film company shot scenes next door, has received over $90,000 in donations from well-wishers after the clip went viral.

Angela Marsden's video, showing the scene at the Pineapple Hill Saloon, in the Sherman Oaks district of Los Angeles, has been seen by 8.5 million people since she posted it on Saturday.

In the clip she walks viewers around her restaurant, showing off the outdoor patio with its picnic tables under an awning.

Indoor dining has been banned for months in Los Angeles County, but health officials took it a step further and banned outdoor dining on November 25, the day before Thanksgiving, “to reduce the possibility for crowding and the potential for exposure.”

Ms Marsden was angered to discover that the caterers for a film crew - shooting the NBC crime drama Good Girls - had set up an almost identical arrangement to her closed restaurant a few feet away.

"I am losing everything," she said, struggling to maintain her composure.

"Everything I own is being taken away from me. And they set up a movie company right next to my patio, which is right here."

She said that she made the discovery of the set en route to a protest, which was staged on Saturday outside the home of County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, with demonstrators saying the government’s uneven application of the rules was crushing small businesses.

"People wonder why I am protesting," Ms Marsden continued. "I have had enough. They have not given us money, and have shut us down.

"We cannot survive, my staff cannot survive."

She gestured to the seating, set up by the catering company for the crew.

"Look at this. Tell me that this is dangerous, but right next to me, as a slap in my face, that's safe?

"This is safe? And 50 feet away, this is dangerous."

Ms Marsden angrily blamed the mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, and the governor of California.

"Mayor Garcetti and Gavin Newsom are responsible for every single person that does not have unemployment, that does not have a job, and all the businesses that are going under.

"We need your help - we need somebody to do something about this."

A Go Fund Me set up to support the restaurant has raised $90,000 so far.

Mr Garcetti, who days ago announced a one-time payment of $800 to food industry workers, urged residents to support restaurants by ordering takeaway meals and delivery but said the restrictions were necessary to reduce the virus’s spread.

“My heart goes out to Ms Marsden and the workers at the Pineapple Hill Saloon who have to comply with state and county public health restrictions that close outdoor dining,” he said.

“No one likes these restrictions, but I do support them as our hospital ICU beds fill to capacity and cases have increased by 500 per cent.

"We must stop this virus before it kills thousands of more Angelenos.”

More than 25,000 new cases were reported statewide on Saturday, the fourth straight single-day record. Los Angeles County, with more than 8,900 new cases, broke its record for the third straight day.

Others pointed out that film shoots are stricter than restaurants because they are limited to crew members who must be regularly tested for the virus.

California has declared entertainment industry workers essential, and in Los Angeles County they must follow strict guidelines such as eating in staggered shifts or in an area large enough to stay six feet apart.

Ms Marsden told The New York Times that she saw two people eating without masks at the tables when she went to her restaurant.

“It was devastating,” she said.

Referring to her staff, she added: “They can’t pay their rent, they have to tell their kids they don’t have a job or money for Christmas.”

A Los Angeles County judge on Wednesday ordered health officials to produce scientific evidence that backs up the ban on outdoor dining.

“You have to do a risk-benefit analysis for public health,” Judge James Chalfant said at the hearing, according to The Los Angeles Times.

“You don’t just talk about the risk of spreading disease. You have to talk about the benefit of keeping restaurants open.”

The California Restaurant Association, which filed a lawsuit challenging the ban, had urged Judge Chalfant to block the outdoor dining restrictions, but he previously declined to do so.

The trade group’s president welcomed the judge’s demand for evidence from the county.

“As we’ve repeatedly said, their order was arbitrary and targeted restaurants unfairly, without supporting evidence,” said Jot Condie, president of the association.

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