Speakeasy, anyone? Beverly Hills restaurant caught in New Year’s Eve dinner scheme

Just in case you have forgotten that we are not all in this together, here is yet another reminder. La Scala, a restaurant in Beverly Hills, California known for its celebrity clientele, was caught offering something it shouldn’t have been offering.

La Scala is facing backlash for placing invitations in take-out orders which offer the possibility of indoor dining at the restaurant on New Year’s Eve. The management appears to have been attempting to take the pulse of customers to find out if there was interest in such an evening celebration. Ironically, the restaurant asked customers to spread the word but to do so discreetly. To prove just how dumb that gambit was, an invitation found its way into the hands of a Los Angeles journalist. Gee, who could have predicted that?

California is under the strictest of lockdown orders due to its spike in coronavirus cases. There is a ban on both indoor and outdoor dining in restaurants in Southern California. Restaurants only have the option of providing take-out and delivery of food. La Scala was offering a service that it is restricted from making. The indoor dining opportunity was to have a speakeasy-style theme. The scheme was a little too clever by half.

A Los Angeles journalist tweeted a photo of one of the purported invitations from celebrity-friendly La Scala — two blocks from Rodeo Drive — that likened the New Year’s Eve dinner to a speakeasy-style gathering reminiscent of the alcohol-free era of Prohibition in the 1920s.

“We’re considering taking reservations for New Year’s Eve dinner. Inside,” the invitation read. “If this is something you’d be interested in, please let us know as soon as possible. If enough interest, we’ll contact you back to secure a reservation. Please keep this discreet but tell all your friends.”

Naturally, when word got out, the responses were not favorable. A Los Angeles journalist spread the word by posting the invitation found in take-out orders. She also posted about an upcoming meeting planned by the elected officials in Beverly Hills on January 12, 2021. That post came with a reminder that officials in Beverly Hills want to open their own health department, separate from Los Angeles County so that restrictions like closing restaurants won’t apply to Beverly Hills.

A resolution was unanimously approved by the Beverly Hills City Council opposing the Los Angeles County Public Health Officer order that prohibits outdoor dining across the County and in the City of Beverly Hills. The resolution included directing staff to explore the possibility of creating a local City Health Department.

Citing a detrimental impact on local businesses and lack of scientific evidence used by the County, the resolution demands a motion be placed on the December 8, 2020 agenda of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to repeal the current Health Order. In addition, the City Council is requesting the County focus on implementing restrictions based on data and localized to the area of the outbreak. The resolution further states that all future Los Angeles County Public Health Officer Orders be based on actual data related to a particular industry, sector, or area and not be applied unilaterally to every jurisdiction in Los Angeles County.

The City Council also directed staff to explore the potential for the creation of a local City Health Department in Beverly Hills, rather than remain under the jurisdiction of the County Department of Public Health. The Council also directed the City Attorney to explore legal action against the County, potentially in collaboration with other municipalities.

The current County Health Order prohibits indoor and outdoor dining (only allowing for pick-up or delivery) for the next several weeks. For a list of businesses offering take-out and delivery options in Beverly Hills, visit www.beverlyhills.org/restaurants.

A local ABC affiliate ran with the story and people are not pleased, to say the least.

The Beverly Hills Police Department says they are “handling the matter.” I didn’t find a tweet saying that, though, after a quick search of its timeline. Instead, there is a generic holiday greeting and request that everyone stay safe.

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

On Christmas Day, the Beverly Hills Police Department tweeted it was aware of the invitations and said it was “handling the matter.”

So far, La Scala has not issued a statement.

Businesses all across the country are suffering due to often arbitrary lockdown restrictions. Americans are wary of big government intervention against private businesses as it is. For some to try to skirt the restrictions with clever little theme dinners in restaurants is unacceptable. If they wish to make a statement and open despite the lockdown, do it in the open and make the message clear. The sneaky way, even though it was doomed from the beginning because of the lame request of inviting everyone “discreetly”, is a jab in the eye to everyone. It’s a reminder that we really aren’t all in this together. The wealthy, celebrities and elected officials live as if the rules are for everyone else, not for them.

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