‘I’m following the rules!’ Exasperated Cali restaurant owner faces down public health officials in gut-wrenching video

The frustrations of business owners being robbed of their very livelihoods by the restrictions being put in place by local and state officials in response to a surge in COVID-19 continues to boil-over in America.

Owners who are desperate as they struggle to stay afloat to feed their families, pay their bills, and keep staff employed ahead of the Christmas holidays.

The gut-wrenching struggle is hard to watch, as seen in yet another video of an owner squaring off with public health inspectors. Taking place in Ventura, Calif., the officials showed up at the Nick The Greek eatery to issue a citation to owner Anton Van Happen for staying open after being issued a closure order.

"I'm not breaking the law!" Van Happen cried out when told he was violating the law, as he stressed to the officials that his outdoor-dining tables were now stacked inside.

Ventura is under a stay-at-home order issued by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is under intense fire for his crackdown.

At the same time, a judge issued a tentative ruling last week blocking public health officials in nearby Los Angeles County from banning outdoor dining

"By failing to weigh the benefits of an outdoor dining restriction against its costs, the County acted arbitrarily and its decision lacks a rational relationship to a legitimate end," Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant wrote in response to a legal challenge from the California Restaurant Association.

In a second video shared online, Van Happen struggled with emotion and anger as he is forced to fight to earn a living. In America.

"I follow the rules!" the exasperated owner yelled. "I continue to follow the rules and you guys still, time after time, are giving me citations, telling me I have to close my business. What about my employees?"

As the health department official talked about a drawn-out process of following the rules, Van Happen shot back, "Are you going to pay my rent?"

The irony is those trying to shut him down don't have to worry about paying rent because they receive government salaries that business owners help fund via taxes.

Last week, Van Happen posted signs advertising a protest of the outdoor dining ban being deemed dangerous, KEYT reported, noting that his outdoor patio was packed.

“I am trying to start something where all restaurant owners are going to wake up,” he said.

“My calling is to all the other restaurant owners to open your restaurants,” the owner added. “If we all open up they can't do anything.”

Van Happen is not the only owner who feels they are being treated unfairly.

Jan Holguin, who owns Casa Bella in Downtown Ventura, reopened last week after the ruling in Los Angeles County.

“We have complied and we did shut down,” Holguin told KEYT. “We have been following the California Restaurant Association and the case came down in LA that the judge decided that outdoor dining was safe, and the science was not there and that was a decision for us to decide to reopen on Wednesday night.”

After informing the county Public Health Department about her plans to reopen, she said they showed up that night and "gave us a temporary suspension of our license.”

Los Angeles-based celebrity Chef Andrew Gruel was just in the news for defying the state's shutdown order for restaurants, calling Gov. Newsom an *sshole" in a video he posted online -- Gruel expressed his frustrations over spending thousands of dollars to comply with orders, only to have officials arbitrarily change the rules.

Angela Marsden, the owner of the Pineapple Hill Grill & Saloon, also located in Los Angeles, recently posted a video that went viral, blasting Mayor Eric Garcetti and the governor.

Marsden tearfully explained, “I’m losing everything,” calling attention to the mayor approving a movie company to feed the cast outside — which was set up 50 feet from her now-closed outdoor seating area.

Here's a sampling of responses to the heartbreaking story from Twitter:

Tom Tillison

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