Monrovia Restaurants Frustrated With City and County Politics Regarding Outdoor Dining

The Diplomat, as with all restaurants in Los Angeles County, is forced to offer only outside seating for the foreseeable future. - Photo by Terry Miller / Beacon Media News

Just take a walk or drive down Myrtle Avenue and you might be stunned with the number of outdoor dining options Monrovia businesses offer. Even outside the movie theatre.

Newly city-installed barriers and newly created “patios,” that restaurants like The Diplomat have built at their own expense, have opened a world of dining possibilities when indoor dining has been prohibited due to COVID-19.

Not everyone is apparently adhering to the strict health and safety rules and when one business does not comply it could be curtains for everyone else.

Last week, the city manager threatened to nix the outdoor pilot program if the businesses and customers do not adhere to the county Safer at Work and in the Community mandate.

“In order for the City of Monrovia to allow expanded outdoor dining to occur, the city must certify that Safer at Work and in the Community protocols are followed, masks are worn, and physical distancing is practiced. If business owners, residents and patrons cannot adhere to the guidelines, the pilot program will have to end,” Monrovia City Manager Dylan Feik wrote in an update Wednesday afternoon.

To keep the program alive and successful the city manager has outlined the following guidelines:

  • All visitors must wear a mask when not eating and drinking. This includes those walking in the street or waiting for a table.
  • All alcohol must be consumed at the dining table. At no time should customers walk in the street with an alcohol beverage.
  • Patrons must be seated 6 feet apart from other parties. Outdoor dining tables must be placed 6 feet apart. Additionally, aisles will remain open to provide space for those walking in the street to move freely between the various expanded spaces.

Joey Kouchakian, owner of The Diplomat, has invested $10,000 in new outdoor patio areas for two of his restaurants on Lemon in Old Town Monrovia just to be able to survive.

Kouchakian, who is no stranger to city rules and regulations, said that the city waived the permit fee to install the patio areas but that is about all.

The additional expenses and constant changes in health codes due to rising COVID-19 cases in California have affected all businesses but, perhaps, none more so than restaurants.

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