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Orange Beach restaurant ordered to close dining area after defying COVID-19 mandates

(WPMI) Orange Beach restaurant ordered to close dining area after defying COVID-19 mandates
(WPMI){ }Orange Beach restaurant ordered to close dining area after defying COVID-19 mandates

The owner of a popular restaurant in Orange Beach has been forced to stop serving sit down meals after he made the bold decision to reopen his business to customers with reservations despite the Governor's standing order to limit food service to carry out and to-go orders.

The owner of Big Fish on Canal Road expects a visit by the State Health Department to learn the restaurant's fate later this week.

The plan was to open Big Fish to reservations only using social distancing guidelines to limit customers and seating people at a safe distance apart from each other.

The restaurant staff at Big Fish was back to work Monday.

Owner Leck Labron says the Federal Paycheck Protection Program is paying for the staff to be there. Labron says he realizes he could be fined or shut down, but he decided to take it a step further.

"I got employees calling me crying 'what am I going to do' seriously everyday. These last three weeks have been the hardest three weeks in my entire career in the restaurant business," said Labron.

Customer and local business owner Melanie Martin made a dinner reservation.

"It's not an act of defiance. It's an act of 'this is okay.' I feel perfectly safe. Leck is going to place people apart at a safe distance and I don't see any difference in coming here to take food out that someone prepared and sitting here and eating," said Martin.

Other walk-in customers say they heard the restaurant was opening on Facebook.

"We're so sick and tired of this pandemic, as we like to call it. We are good conservatives and we are happy to come back and get businesses going. This has been really ridiculous," said customer Steve Miller.

Steve Smith says he supports Labron's decision to open now.

"Use common sense. I think I'm pretty smart enough to make that decision and that's the main thing we're looking at," said Smith.

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