California restaurant owner defies coronavirus outdoor dining ban with ‘picnic protests’

California restaurant owner defies outdoor dining ban: ‘We’re in survival mode’

Chef Rodney Worth says he is in ‘survival mode’ as he defies California outdoor dining bans that are devastating small businesses.

A California restaurant owner is fighting back against tough coronavirus restrictions that could put him out of business, for good.

Chef Rodney Worth owns two restaurants in Northern California, The Peasant and the Pear and The Peasant’s Courtyard. Rodney told "America’s Newsroom" on Friday his restaurants are in jeopardy of being shuttered and that he feels "villainized."  

"We’re in survival mode right now, trying to stay afloat," Worth said. "We don't know what to do. We've done everything they've said to do and people have got tents, thousands of dollars on tents, we have outside dining, the best sanitizer, we have training. We are dying the death of a thousand cuts right now."


The Contra Costa County Health Department put out a statement saying, "It has been established that the three key risk factors – close proximity to others for an extended period of time without wearing a mask — all of these things happen with outdoor dining." Other experts disagree with the health department, calling it "speculation rather than science." Restaurants in California have been asked to close their indoor and outdoor dining setups due to the surge in coronavirus infections.

Worth explained his customers started to hold "picnic protests" outside of his restaurants, where they bring their own chairs and host their own tailgate parties.

"[People] are getting the food to go, sitting outside," Worth said. "You could stand and eat on my patio and I can't get fined but, if you sit in one of my chairs I can get fined. We aren't serving anybody. We were just letting people take the food to go. They would have to-go silverware and a trash can and they would eat out on our chairs, so now we were told that we cannot do that. So they are sitting on the hard surfaces around the restaurant."

The California chef went out to say he has followed all the appropriate guidelines for his restaurants and has no reported coronavirus cases from his 55 employees. Worth added the dining establishments around him have also not reported any cases of the virus.


"We take this very serious, and we don’t want anybody to get [COVID-19], I don’t want [COVID-19]," he said. "We’re just trying to survive right now."

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