PASADENA, Calif. (NewsNation Now) — Los Angeles County moved to shut down all in-person dining last Wednesday. But because Pasadena has its own health department, this city could independently decide to keep its restaurants open.
And it’s led to a business boom, drawing diners from all over Southern California.
On a Tuesday, there was actually a wait for tables at some restaurants in Pasadena.
OJ Rodriguez and his daughter drove 20 miles out of their way to dine in the city.
“We’re tired of being inside all the time,” said Rodriquez. “This is one way of being festive and enjoying the holidays.”
The word is out that Pasadena is the only city in Los Angeles County to still allow outdoor dining.
“We look at it as we don’t want to single out our restaurants, that is probably a smaller percentage picture of the larger scope of COVID cases. We’re looking at a broader perspective as far as enforcement,” said Lisa Derderian, spokesperson for the City of Pasadena.
Pasadena has stepped up inspections to make sure restaurants are complying with safety protocols. And most businesses are quite measured in their efforts.
Restaurant owner Armen Shirvanian has been busy seen ever since Los Angeles County shut down. He doesn’t mind the city inspections or the onslaught of new patrons.
“I’ve spoken to people from as far as Malibu to Long Beach,” said Shirvanian, owner of Mi Piace Restaurant. “I hear a lot coming from downtown, Hollywood and the West Side. But they are traveling from Santa Monica, Palos Verdes, anywhere that’s LA County.”
Pasadena officials plan to continue monitoring COVID-19 statistics and operations — already moving to limit outdoor dining to no more than six people and tables can only include immediate family members.
“We welcome everybody. We really want the businesses to thrive,” said Derderian. “But we also need to look at the COVID numbers and how that’s going to impact how we move forward day to day. It’s a partnership with the city and the community.”
Due to the current coronavirus numbers and projections, the Los Angeles County dining shutdown is expected to stretch beyond the mandated three weeks.
It has other cities looking to become independent by establishing their own health departments including Whittier, West Covina, and Lancaster.
Pasadena Mayor Victor Gordo joined NewsNation on Tuesday, Dec. 1 to discuss the city’s unique approach to coronavirus restrictions. You can watch that interview in the player below.