O.C. restaurant owner urging unvaccinated diners defends decision, calls for other businesses to follow

Local news

A Huntington Beach restaurant owner who says his eatery will now be requiring proof from customers of “being unvaccinated” before they can dine there is defending his decision and urging others to follow suit.

Basilico’s Pasta e Vino enacted the new policy this week, posting notices near its entrance as well as on the restaurant’s social media pages.

“Notice: Proof of being unvaccinated required,” reads the sign, which features a graphic depicting a pair of hands breaking apart a syringe. “We have zero tolerance for treasonous, anti-American stupidity. Thank you for pondering.”

In a Facebook video shared Tuesday morning, Basilico’s owner Tony Roman suggested that the new policy comes in direct response to renewed mask mandates across the country amid the emergence of the highly contagious COVID-19 delta variant.

Neighboring Los Angeles County was among the areas that reinstated its mask mandate for both vaccinated and non-vaccinated residents at indoor public gatherings earlier this month.

In the video, Roman said he was prepared to “go into battle against the little dictators of the lockdowns” and invited fellow business owners, as well as community, political and church leaders, to follow Basilico’s and their “aggressive and uncompromising blueprint for battling and defeating the wannabe-dictators waging war on American liberty.”

He encouraged them to not accept vaccine and mask mandates by signing a declaration and pledge. The link to the online document, however, did not appear to be working by mid-afternoon, taking visitors to a website that had a 404 “File Not Found” error code instead.

One thing Roman has yet to do is explain how staffers at Basilico’s expect customers to provide proof of their unvaccinated statuses. But a staff member who spoke with the Los Angeles Times said the restaurant would not, in fact, be asking for any official documentation.

In an emailed statement, Roman also told the L.A. Times that his latest policy — or “missile of defiance,” as he called it — was designed to “make our point in defense of American liberty and freedom,” suggesting that patrons won’t actually be forced to prove they’re “unvaccinated.”

In the wake of the Times’ report Monday, the restaurant has received “harassing non-stop phone calls” from the haters, as well as “hundreds” of one-star reviews, according to a post on its Facebook page.

Undeterred, the business referred to the flood of negative attention and reviews as “a badge of honor.”

Over the last year, Basilico’s has also made headlines for similar stunts, including its defiance of California’s statewide mask mandate in September 2020. At the time, the restaurant instituted a “no masks allowed” policy and even erected a billboard in L.A. advertising its stance with a quote paraphrased from 1972’s “The Godfather.”

“Leave the mask, take the cannoli,” the billboard read.

The restaurant was hit with proposed fines of more than $150,000 in June by the California Division of Occupational Health and Safety over four COVID-19 safety violations, according to Cal/OSHA records.

While the fine hasn’t been appealed, the record showed, the restaurant appeared to indicate earlier this month — via an Instagram video interspersed with clips from “The Godfather” — that it wouldn’t pay the penalty.

Basilico’s Pasta e Vino’s sign in Beverly Grove is seen on Sept. 28, 2020. (KTLA

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