MARINA DEL REY, Calif. — The Monday of the men's NCAA basketball national championship game should have been a bustling evening at Tony P's Dockside Grill in Marina Del Rey.
But a quiet kitchen gave way to an even quieter bar scene.
Despite L.A. County moving into the less restrictive orange tier, to some local restaurants and restaurant owners like Tony Palermo, not much has changed when it comes to increasing capacity limits.
“The movement from red to orange for us didn’t mean absolutely anything," Palermo said. "The only thing that has stayed the same which is very unfortunate is we can’t put TVs on in the restaurant.”
Although the new guidance allows restaurants and other businesses to increase capacity indoors from 25 to 50%, what it doesn't change are restrictions on the usage of televisions indoors or bar top seating inside.
“You can go to a movie theater and sit six feet apart and have food and alcohol, but you can’t come to Tony P’s Dockside grill at eight feet apart and watch TV," he said. "It just doesn’t make any sense and no one has any rhyme or reason, or science behind it.”
Two years ago during this time in the March Madness tournament, it would have been one of the biggest business days of the year.
But this year, despite the move into a new tier sector, Tony P's has more silent TV's on the wall than patrons in its bar.
“The other problem is that people are constantly coming in and saying 'oh, they had a TV on somewhere else,'" Palermo explained. "So, we’re trying to do the right thing and we’re being penalized.”
While the orange tier was meant to represent a green light of sorts for restaurants and bars in L.A. County, Palermo said much more clarity is needed from the health department.
“Everybody has suffered through this, but we got through it," he said. "We’re here, we’re looking forward to it, so let’s just turn the TVs on and have some fun.”