Vancouver police have confirmed the identity of a restaurant fined for allegedly hosting a 100-person New Year’s Eve party, in violation of B.C.’s COVID-19 restrictions.
Police say they attended the Cold Tea Restaurant, a Chinese-Vietnamese restaurant at the intersection of Granville and Davie, around 11 p.m. Dec. 31, after a complaint from the public.
Police said they found a private party with scores of attendees and food and liquor service in progress. Officers shut the event down and issued the owner/organizer with a $2,300 fine.
The restaurant opened in 2020 in the former location of Tsui Hang Village Restaurant, which was famous for allegedly selling “cold tea” (beer in a tea pot) after last call.
Ian Tostenson, president of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservice Association said he was “disgusted” by the event.
“This industry has worked so hard to earn the right and the privilege to open up — we’re one of the only provinces that still have indoor dining,” he said.
“That sort of thing is so reckless, it puts the entire industry at peril, it actually hurts our credibility with government.”
Tostenson said he believes the attendees at the party should have been fined $2,300, while the owners should have faced a six-figure penalty.
He said the BCRFA would advocate for stiffer penalties against businesses that flout COVID-19 rules, while other businesses take pains to follow the regulations.
He said the event was particularly insulting, when other restaurants in the city lost thousands of dollars scrapping later-evening New Year’s Eve seatings following a last-minute health order barring liquor service after 8 p.m.
“Everybody knows what you’re supposed to be doing, and it’s certainly not having a party on New Year’s Eve with 100 people,” he said.
“You’re living on another planet somewhere if you didn’t know those are the rules.”
Cold Tea’s owners claim the police numbers regarding attendance on New Year’s Eve are “grossly exaggerated.”
In an emailed response, Paul Rivas and Ron Cheng told Global News there were 38 people sitting at socially distanced tables – and the group was leaving when the gathering was broken up.
“Unfortunately when the police stormed the restaurant through the back door, the optics weren’t good, as the group was in the process of taking pictures together, maskless,” Rivas and Cheng said.
The restaurant maintains it has high standards and protocols regarding COVID-19.
Maddalen Pasini, a PR strategist and communications consultant who says she helped Cold Tea with their launch last summer, said the restaurant did not qualify for any grants or financial help from the government as it is a recent startup operation, and that they were simply “trying to survive and make rent for this month, (with) no intention of breaking the regulations.”
Vancouver police said they were called to dozens of events violating the province’s ban on social gatherings, and handed out four fines for $2,300, including the one to the Cold Tea Restaurant.
Police also attended a dance party at the Vancouver Art Gallery protesting COVID-19 restrictions, but did not issue any fines.
One protester was arrested after climbing a statue and then allegedly biting a police officer.View link »