A Long Beach Superior Court judge this week waived a more-than $5,000 penalty and dismissed a misdemeanor criminal case against the owner of a now-closed Long Beach restaurant who refused to shut down during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when restrictions were in place.
Judge Christopher J. Frisco on Monday, Sept. 21, set aside the monetary penalty because Dana Tanner would be unable to pay it and had lost her Fourth Street business, which closed in April 2021, Long Beach City Prosecutor Douglas Haubert said.
The judge also dismissed 20 misdemeanor charges against Tanner, who kept her restaurant, Restauration, open for in-person outdoor dining despite numerous warnings from the city regarding restrictions during the height of the pandemic.
When the city cut off her gas line, she was accused of tampering with a neighboring business’ gas line to keep her business running.
“She was trying to gain an advantage over other restaurants,” Haubert said. “When she tampered with the gas line, which was extremely dangerous, that certainly escalated the seriousness of this case.”
Tanner told the court she was $80,000 in debt after losing the restaurant, Haubert said.
The criminal case was closed Monday, but because of a statute that allows the city to recoup finances for emergency investigations, Tanner may still have to pay the $5,019 penalty if the city files a successful civil lawsuit against her.
Haubert, in court documents, said the city spent more than $28,000 investigating the case against Tanner, with $5,019 identified as emergency costs related to the gas line. In arguing for the fine, Haubert noted in court documents that a GoFundMe account organized by Tanner had raised $9,230.
At the time, she said she understood the city was trying to make an example out of her for disobeying COVID orders, but she believed she was treated harsher than necessary.
Tanner and her attorney did not respond to messages seeking comment. In February, she said she was working as a bartender and had no plans to open another restaurant.
Haubert said the turning point in the case was when Tanner permanently closed Restauration last year.
“No one wanted it to come to criminal action and no one wanted her to lose her restaurant,” Haubert said, “but unfortunately, that’s what happened.
“I wish her the best,” he said.
At one point during the nearly seven years she had the restaurant, a fire that caused extensive damage, in November 2018. The restaurant was closed for more than a year for repairs and reopened months before the start of the pandemic.
She has said she made the decision to keep the restaurant open to keep it afloat and to support her employees.