VENTURA (CBSLA) — A confrontation between a business owner and employees with the Ventura County Health Care Agency has gone viral on social media.
"Are you going to pay my rent ? says owner Anton Van Happen of 'Nick The Greek' to public health inspectors issuing him a citation for staying open after being issued a closure order. Things got tense pic.twitter.com/9eKCiAjDaw
— Jorge Ventura Media (@VenturaReport) December 15, 2020
“What am I going to do if I close? Are you going to pay my rent,” Nick the Green owner Anton Van Happen can be heard saying in the video. “OK, if you’re not going to pay my rent, I’m not closing.”
Van Happen said the Monday visit happened after he staged a protest Friday by leaving his tables outside his restaurant, though he was only offering takeout and delivery.
He said he put the tables away that night after getting a visit from the health department, but that his business permit was suspended after a health official went back on a verbal agreement.
“The city of Ventura has been extremely helpful,” he said. “It’s the health department that hasn’t.”
And on Tuesday, there was a long line outside the restaurant as Van Happen continued to protest the closure order.
“I said, ‘I’m pregnant. I’m hungry. I’m going to Nick the Greek,'” Elena Zicker, a customer, said. “It was nice showing up here, walking up and seeing a big line.”
And it’s not just people from the community showing their support.
“The phone has been ringing nonstop since we opened this morning,” Van Happen said. “We have people all different states call in, like literally across the whole of the U.S. going, ‘How can we help? How can we donate?’”
Van Happen said he has complied with the in-person dining ban, even though a superior court judge recently said a similar measure in Los Angeles County was “arbitrary.”
“Over the summer when they had a full lockdown, the government was giving money to everybody every week — which made a lot of sense,” Van Happen said. “And that’s why nobody had issues like we’re having right now.”
A request for comment from the Ventura County health department was not immediately returned.