Anti-mask Huntington Beach restaurant took PPP funds while rejecting safety regulations – Orange County Register | #socialmedia

A Huntington Beach restaurant that has been outspoken in its defiance of state and federal COVID-19 recommendations, such as masks and vaccines, accepted money from the government’s Paycheck Protection Program.

Despite its vehement anti-state and federal government social media postings, Basilico’s Pasta E Vino has accepted $57,738 in PPP funds, according to ProPublica’s Small Business Administration loan database. The federal government offered the assistance as a lifeline to small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic to help cover payroll costs.

When asked about receiving the funds, owner Tony Roman responded in an email with the text from a July 27 social media post from the restaurant: “PPP? It’s our money, not theirs! Don’t let them tax you and then use your money to build a war chest, so they can fund programs to advance and enforce tyrannical mandates and restrictions against you!” it reads in part.

Since May 2020, Basilico’s has been rejecting safety guidelines, particularly mask mandates, including taking out a “Godfather” themed anti-masking billboard in a prominent location in Los Angeles near the Beverly Center. The restaurant came back into the news this week after posting a sign saying it would only serve customers who were not vaccinated.

The sign reads: “Notice Proof of being unvaccinated required” above a clip art image of what appears to be a broken syringe. Under the syringe, it says, “We have zero tolerance for treasonous, anti-American stupidity. Thank you for pondering.”

“It’s really an IQ test,” Roman wrote in an email to the Southern California News Group. “If people are so blinded by their rage, they cannot read between the lines of the sign, then our next sign should read, ‘You’re too stupid to enter.”

  • Basilico’s Pasta e Vino in Huntington Beach, a restaurant that has defied the state’s guidelines for operating during COVID-19, is in danger of losing its liquor license. The California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control filed an accusation against Basilico’s in July for being a “disorderly premises” for allowing indoor dining, which was not permitted at the time, and for employees not wearing face coverings. Basilico’s Pasta e Vino billboard on La Cienega Blvd in Los Angeles reads “Leave the mask, take the cannoli,” on Tuesday, September 29, 2020. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • Patrons of Basilico’s Pasta e Vino in Huntington Beach wait for tables on Sunday, December 6, 2020. The business never shut down since the original lockdown in March, and has operated normally. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Signs at Basilico’s Pasta e vino encourage people without the COVID-19 vaccine to dine at the restaurant in Huntington Beach, CA, on Monday, July 26, 2021
    (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Throughout the pandemic, Basilico’s has been outspoken regarding the coronavirus response. On its Instagram and Facebook accounts, the restaurant has posted mock “Wanted” photos of various public figures, including pandemic medical czar Dr. Anthony Fauci, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Gov. Gavin Newsom and local politicians.

Basilico’s has received multiple citations from the state for violations, such as failing to set up a COVID-19 prevention training program for employees and not supplying masks to its staff. Cal/OSHA provided the Southern California News Group with a copy of the citations issued through June 17, 2021, and confirmed that it fined the restaurant $152,060 and that Basilico’s has neither paid nor filed an appeal.

“There is no record of an appeal as of this date,” said a spokesperson in an email reply.

Basilico’s had responded to the citation on July 10 by posting clips from “The Godfather” film series suggesting it would refuse to pay.

“I won’t even answer them,” Roman wrote in an email on Wednesday. “Will never ask for forgiveness, or negotiate.”

The restaurant is also at risk of losing its liquor license, accused by the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control of being a “disorderly premises.” The license is still active, but “the case is pending, and the department is unable to comment on pending litigation,” said a spokesperson for ABC.

When asked what he hoped would be the outcome of the situation, Roman wrote that he aimed for the government to stand down and for people to stand with the restaurant and freedom.

“Our stand is for all Americans,” wrote Roman. “They can thank us later.”

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