For the last decade, Brett Latteri has spent every waking hour building his restaurant, The Den on Sunset, into a cozy local destination with a friendly atmosphere.
"I wanted this to be a place that the neighborhood could come and have an amazing time on Sunset Strip, and I think we succeeded in that," he said.
Although only a fraction of restaurants survive their first year, The Den celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2019, with 2020 on track to become its best year yet.
Then the pandemic hit, and everything went sideways.
"It's been a grind," he said. "We're significantly down 50 plus percent in revenue from what we used to do."
Since July, Latteri spent $80,000 converting his parking lot into a COVID-friendly oasis, complete with flat-screen TVs, chandeliers, and heaters for the winter months.
"Being far from our dining room, we invested in a lot of technology over the past few months," he said. "We have a bunch of iPads that are all Wi-Fi connected. You place the order through this, and it goes straight into the kitchen or the bar."
But just as things were looking up, Los Angeles County issued a curfew, requiring restaurants, bars and nonessential businesses to close at 10 p.m. The new rules also include a 50 percent capacity limit on outdoor service.
On Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a "limited" stay-at-home order, to curb yet another wave of COVID-19. Even more stringent restrictions could be on the horizon if infection rates continue to rise.
When Latteri heard the news, he was devastated, he said.
"We've come so far since March," he said. "It's been hard."
Latteri's restaurant opens at 5 p.m. each evening. Closing at 10 p.m. means a 30 percent revenue loss, he said.
"Over the last 10 years, we've tried opening for lunch, we've tried opening at 2 o'clock 3 o'clock, it just doesn't work," he explained.
The night before the curfew kicked in, Latteri was already feeling the effects.
"It seems like there's quite a few cancellations on reservations that were made prior to the announcement," he said.
He said he might have to cut his employees' hours. This latest shutdown, he said, is unfair to the restaurant industry and will only punish patrons for gathering in their homes instead.
"I'm not denying what's going on out there," he said. "But they haven't shown us that this industry is the culprit."
Public health officials reported Friday 4,272 new coronavirus cases.
Restaurants, wineries, and breweries will be closed for in-person dining if the county reaches a five-day average of 4,000 or more cases or if hospitalizations top 1,750.
Latteri said he is hopeful he can weather the storm. But he knows the next few weeks will be rough.
"I don't know what tomorrow holds," he said. "I'm not in control of lockdowns and these things. But I'm committed to this place, and I'm going to do everything I can to stick around."