Eureka city government has fined the Applebee’s restaurant on Broadway $1,500 for allegedly serving customers indoors on at least three occasions over the last few weeks.
Humboldt County was placed in the state’s “purple tier,” which bars indoor dining in restaurants, on Nov. 24.
In a citation dated Friday and addressed to J&A Food Service, a Redding company that operates the local Applebee’s, the City of Eureka’s code enforcement unit says that it warned the restaurant a few times last week before taking the action.
“On multiple occasions including 12/15/20 and 12/16/20, you were contacted and advised that if action was not taken to
correct the code violations at the above referenced address immediately, additional enforcement action would be
taken,” writes city Code Enforcement Manager Matthew Morgan in the citation. “Despite these conversations with you and your local manager, you continue to operate your establishment in
direct violation of the orders of public health officials and City of Eureka Ordinance No. 897-C.S. requiring all persons
within the city of Eureka to adhere to those orders.”
The city says that it first became aware of these alleged violations through calls to the county’s COVID tip line.
The city’s citation — which threatened additional $500 fines for every day the business continued to serve indoors — seems to have had the desired effect. On Friday evening the restaurant was only serving in its outdoor tent, and Brian Gerving, the city’s public works director, said this morning that the restaurant was not seen to serve indoors throughout the weekend.
This is the first time during the pandemic that the city’s code enforcement unit has taken punitive action against a local business for not following health orders, Gerving said. Code enforcement officers have had productive educational conversations with several local businesses throughout the last few months; this is the first time that this approach has not worked, he said.
Gerving said that the city does have “other enforcement tools” at its disposal in the event that fines don’t work. But he hoped that those tools nor further citations will be necessary.
“We completely understand the impact that all of these restrictions are having on local business, and we are trying as hard as we can to make sure people stay safe while businesses continue to operate,” he said. “We hope that people continue to do that and that people hope to give local business their patronage.”
The Outpost reached out to J&A Food Service for comment this morning. We’ll update if we hear back.