Restaurant defies mask mandate, continues to operate despite no food permit
UPDATE: A state court has issued a temporary restraining order mandating that it close. Read more here: https://www.wbrz.com/news/court-issues-order-prohibiting-denham-springs-from-operating-in-defiance-of-mask-mandate
DENHAM SPRINGS - A Livingston Parish restaurant is refusing to comply with the state mask mandate, but the defiance doesn't stop there.
Firehouse BBQ on LA-16 in Denham Springs was open and busy with business on Monday, despite not having a food permit.
Last week, the Louisiana Department of Health revoked the restaurant's food permit after it refused to comply with statewide mandates amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In the window of the establishment, a sign calls the mask mandate "illegal" and says it harms the business and employees without a hearing.
The sign goes on to say, "We are open and will be fighting for the rights of the public and business owners with the LDH in court. Even with no masks, the Health Department issued our permit for good sanitation practices as recently as 7/27/2020, so this is strictly based on mask policing of employees and customers. Please continue to support our business as we support your rights."
A Facebook post asks customers to continue to visit the business so it can afford a lawyer.
One of the many customers at Firehouse BBQ on Monday included a Central resident, Kim Fralick.
"I obviously don't have a mask on. I don't have a problem with it, so I'm glad the local community is coming out and supporting them," Fralick said.
Fralick isn't the only one who stopped by from Central. Life Tabernacle Church pastor Tony Spell made the trip for lunch.
"We're only going to support businesses that'll allow us to come in without masks," Spell said.
LDH says it sees education as the primary tool in encouraging businesses to comply with the Governor's mask mandate, and most businesses are complying with the mandate.
In a situation where there are repeated violations or behavior that indicates that education will not lead to compliance, the State Health Officer has the power to revoke the food permit of an establishment in the interest of public safety.
Firehouse BBQ is the first establishment LDH has taken this action against.
LDH told WBRZ Monday it's waiting to learn about a court decision on Wednesday, which will provide further guidance about what's next for Firehouse BBQ.
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