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Newsom’s strike force tallies up Valley rule-breakers

With California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order to shut down indoor-dining for restaurants across the state amid the coronavirus pandemic, the California Alcoholic Beverage Control has been out in full force in the Central Valley. 

As a central part of Newsom’s bureaucratic “strike force,” ABC has largely served as the tip of the spear in enforcing the order, keeping patrons out of restaurants and onto patios, sidewalks and streets that have been converted into temporary dining space. 

Since July 1, agents with the alcohol agency have visited over 41,000 restaurants across the state.

Of those 41,000, the agency doled out 113 citations.

The San Joaquin Valley accounted for 3,700 restaurant inspections, or about 9 percent of all inspections in California.

Yet, of those 3,700 restaurants, 32 were cited by ABC agents. That brought the Valley’s share of citations to 28 percent of the state.

ABC agents are focusing in on three types of violations: indoor dining, employees not wearing face coverings, and businesses not implementing social distancing measures. 

Failure to comply with the health orders is a misdemeanor and could see a $1,000 fine. 

ABC officials told The Sun that the agency prefers to warn and educate restaurants that are not in compliance with the order as a first step before issuing citations. 

Here’s how the inspections and citations bore out in the Valley

Kern County has had the most activity in the Valley with 1,522 restaurants visited by the ABC. There have been six restaurants cited for indoor operations, and The Bank Sports Lounge in Taft also took a hit for not having an employee mask requirement and a lack of social distancing. 

Los Panchos Mexican Restaurant was the lone Bakersfield establishment to be cited. 

San Joaquin County saw the ABC visit 918 restaurants and issue five citations. 

Fresno County had 486 restaurants visited and leads the Valley with eight citations all for indoor operations, including Pismo’s Coastal Grill, House of Juju, Luna Pizzeria and Culichi Town. 

Culichi Town in Modesto was also cited for indoor operations and a failure to social distance, making it one of four restaurants in Stanislaus County to receive a citation. 

Six restaurants were cited in Tulare County for indoor operations, including Main Street establishments Crawdaddy’s and Downtown Rookies. 

Merced County had three restaurants receive citations, two of which were in Atwater: Almond Tree Restaurant and Lounge and La Nita’s. 

Thus far, neither restaurants in Kings County nor Madera County have caught flak from ABC.

Daniel Gligich
Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.