A restaurant in swanky Beverly Hills, Calif., is facing a backlash, accused of inserting invitations inside to-go bags to a “discreet” New Year’s Eve dinner inside the restaurant — in violation of coronavirus restrictions.
Both indoor and outdoor dining have been banned in Southern California as the region faces a shortage of ICU beds amid a sharp uptick in confirmed infections.
A Los Angeles journalist tweeted a photo of one of the purported invitations from celebrity-friendly La Scala — two blocks from Rodeo Drive — that likened the New Year’s Eve dinner to a speakeasy-style gathering reminiscent of the alcohol-free era of Prohibition in the 1920s.
“We’re considering taking reservations for New Year’s Eve dinner. Inside,” the invitation read. “If this is something you’d be interested in, please let us know as soon as possible. If enough interest, we’ll contact you back to secure a reservation. Please keep this discreet but tell all your friends.”
The invite was shared widely on social media and struck a chord with Angelenos, who have faced a ban on even outdoor dining since Thanksgiving.
“So it’s ok for the privileged and politicians to be around friends and family during the holidays, just not us average people, right???” one person wrote on Twitter.
“This is why we are where we are,” another commented. “The total disregard for others blows my mind.”
Another tweeted, the restaurant “should be delivering free meals to healthcare workers on New Year’s Eve, not trying to bury them in more sick people.”
A woman who said she was a nurse supervisor in Riverside County tweeted, “I see death everyday and we are so out of ratio people are dying bc we can’t care for them. I have to stack bodies in a semi. So enjoy the party…”
The city of Beverly Hills told the Los Angeles Times it contacted the restaurant and reminded the management of the dining restrictions.
“We understand this is an incredibly difficult time for all of our businesses,” the city’s statement said, “however the County Order does currently prohibit indoor and outdoor dining, including in the City of Beverly Hills.”
On Christmas Day, the Beverly Hills Police Department tweeted it was aware of the invitations and said it was “handling the matter.”
La Scala has not commented on the controversy or confirmed the authenticity of the invitations. Its website says the restaurant is closed on New Year’s Eve and that both indoor and outdoor dining were unavailable.