Restaurant Wars

Are These Small Business Owners the New Civil Rights Leaders?

For many people, the end of 2020 brings welcome relief. It has been a year quite distinct from any other in recent memory, marked by the global pandemic, civil unrest, demands for a revision of U.S. history, contentious election results, and tyranny exercised by dictatorial governors and mayors.

A less talked about casualty of 2020 has been the small-business owner. In a year where the national media has been diligent about building a running count of alleged COVID deaths, it has been uninterested in tracking the number of lives decimated by government-imposed lockdowns. Draconian lockdowns prompted in the interest of “public health” have been enthusiastically championed by the media, who, at the same time, neglect to report the impact on local small business. Under New York governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City major Bill DeBlasio, over 1000 restaurants in NYC alone have permanently closed. Likely most of you know the national alleged COVID death count but cannot even begin to approximate the number of small businesses that are but a memory, as such statistics do not advance the media’s preferred narrative.

In hindsight, many of the patriots owning these businesses could not have imagined when they dutifully followed the law to shut their doors for “fifteen days to slow the spread and flatten the curve,” that they were closing the door on their livelihoods and dreams. If one were to search outside the websites of national media outlets, it is not difficult to find stories of business owners who found ways to work around government-imposed guidelines for public “safety,” spending thousands of dollars in the process. With restaurants and coffee shops providing outdoor seating, dance studios erecting outdoor platforms and stages in parking lots, retailers encasing employees in plexiglass, and beauty salons setting up hair-cutting stations on sidewalks, their American patrons witnessed the resourcefulness only an American entrepreneur could tender.

Unfortunately, the ingenuity, investment, and grit of these business owners seem little match for the power-hungry autocrats running their cities and states. Despite the price tag to businesses for government compliance, governors Gavin Newsom in California, Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan, and Andrew Cuomo in New York are heralding draconian decrees for even stricter lockdowns.

Fortunately, it is once again the American entrepreneur to the rescue. In an act of civil disobedience, celebrity chef Andrew Gruel has rejected California’s COVID-19 restrictions. Despite being called a “grandmother killer,” Gruel exposes the duplicity of autocrats who forbid even outdoor dining and yet approve of air travel and shopping at big box retailers.  

Thousands of miles from the left coast, Danny Presti, co-owner of Mac’s Public House in Stanton Island, was frog-marched out of his business for serving the public despite operating within the state’s delegated “orange zone.” The clever bar owners designated their property as an “autonomous zone,” a cheeky retort referencing the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone or “CHAZ” that was established by rioters in Seattle last summer. In Presti’s sovereign territory, “immigrants” were treated to drinks and the usual hospitality, with a request for donations. For the bar-owners’ defiance, the state has issued fines, and the New York State Liquor authority has suspended their liquor license. The two brave gentlemen, however, promised not to give in.

Many of us might pause, reflect, and even thank these business owners for their bravery in calling out the authority’s hypocrisy at such great risk to their businesses, reputations, and personal fortunes. These very people are civil rights leaders of our time, fighting for the unalienable right to work and provide for our families. As 2020 winds down and 2021 dawns, we need to keep these people in our prayers as they are fighting a battle on behalf of all working Americans. For any religious folks out there claiming that such rebels are not following their own interpretation of Romans 13, perhaps they need to be reminded of Reformer John Knox’s remark that “resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.”

has had a lifelong appreciation for science, teaching, and research. She graduated summa cum laude from California State University, Fresno with a BS degree in molecular biology and a minor in cognitive psychology. As an undergraduate, she conducted summer research in immunology, microbiology, behavioral and cognitive psychology, scanning tunneling microscopy and genetics; she also published research in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, and co-authored a chapter on scanning tunneling microscopy. She is currently completing a Master’s degree in Instructional Design and Technology at University of Cincinnati and a Certificate in Apologetics with the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University. Emily has had the joy of teaching high school chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, anatomy & physiology, and pre-engineering classes over the last thirteen years. As a former Darwinian evolutionist, Emily enjoys stating the case for intellectual agency, considering the arguments posited by the intelligent design movement as much more credible than those proffered by Darwinists.

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