Calif. restaurant owner mocks Gov. Newsom with 'French Laundry' banner, calls restrictions 'sheer insanity'

Alex Jordan, the owner of Eat at Joe’s Restaurant in Redondo Beach, said restrictions have had a crushing impact on his business

A restaurant owner who mocked California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s widely criticized outing at French Laundry in Napa Valley said lockdown restrictions have had a crushing impact on his business during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Alex Jordan, the owner of Eat at Joe’s Restaurant in Redondo Beach, jabbed at Newsom by hanging a “French Laundry” banner outside his business. The governor was forced to apologize earlier this month after he was photographed dining at the luxury restaurant with a large group, in violation of his own guidelines.

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“The governor went to that party at the French Laundry and didn’t social distance, didn’t do anything and just rubbed it in our faces,” Jordan said in an interview with FOX Business. “The hypocrisy of it annoyed me so I put the sign up as like, hey, if it’s OK for you to go to the French Laundry, then my customers can come in. That’s all it was. Just a straight on dig at the governor.”

Eat at Joe's Restaurant in Redondo Beach, California. (Eat at Joe's Restaurant)

State and local officials reimposed restrictions on most businesses this month in response to a spike in COVID-19 cases. Restaurants throughout much of California are limited to outdoor and takeout service. Jordan’s restaurant is located in Los Angeles County, where public health officials have shuttered outdoor dining as well due to the surge.

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Earlier this month, Newsom moved 41 of 58 counties to a “purple tier,” denoting the state’s strictest measures, just days after photos from his French Laundry dinner surfaced. The governor later said the Nov. 6 outing was a “bad mistake,” adding that he needed “to preach and practice, not just preach.”

Jordan criticized repeated rule changes during the pandemic as “sheer insanity,” adding that public health officials “keep moving the goal lines” for COVID-19 restrictions. With budgets already stretched thin by a decline in business during the lockdowns, the Eat at Joe’s proprietor has had to make costly purchases of tents, patio furniture and plexiglass to stay open.

“My employees have to eat, they have to be fed, they have to get paid and being home three weeks before Christmas is no way to do that," Jordan said. "I’m not trying to make a political statement, I’m not trying to make an anti-COVID statement, none of that. I just want my employees to be able to survive."

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Jordan said the pleas of restaurant owners have had little effect on policy at the state or federal level. Months of political deadlock in Congress have derailed talks on another coronavirus stimulus package that could provide relief for embattled small businesses.

“Nothing I say is going to matter to them. I wish it would matter. Nothing I’m going to say is going to make a difference,” Jordan said. “But look at the people who are working. Look at the people who are really suffering, not anybody else but the frontline people. And I’m not talking about frontline like firemen, policemen and doctors – those are way above where we’re at. But still, my employees have to eat, too.”

“Take care of the people, that’s what I would say,” the restaurant owner added in a message to lawmakers.

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