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La Plata Restaurant Owner Pushes Back On Outdoor Tent Restrictions

NBC Washington D.C. logo NBC Washington D.C. 11/28/2020 Derrick Ward
a tent in the background: A restaurant owner in La Plata, Maryland says he’s playing by pandemic rules by trying to serve his food outdoors under a large tent, but he is being met with permit restrictions set by the city. © Provided by NBC Washington D.C.

A restaurant owner in La Plata, Maryland says he’s playing by pandemic rules by trying to serve his food outdoors under a large tent, but he is being met with permit restrictions set by the city.

A restaurant owner in La Plata, Maryland says he’s playing by pandemic rules by trying to serve his food outdoors under a large tent, but he is being met with permit restrictions set by the city.

Earlier this month, Galazia Restaurant erected a tent on the restaurant’s parking lot since the restaurant is only allowed to seat half of its capacity and colder days are ahead. 

However, that’s when the trouble started. The owner, Joe Gressis, had to bring the tent down because he could not get a permit.

In a letter sent to Gressis, city officials detailed codes that treated the tent like a permanent structure.

“They’re temporary tents. They’re the exact same tent that you would see at the Charles County fairgrounds, that you would them at fairs, festivals, you'll see weddings happen underneath of them,” Gressis said. 

The permitting process requires things such as wind resistance and snow load capacity. 

“It’s not made for that. We all know that. None of the tents are made for that anywhere in Charles County. They’re supposed to come down if there’s snow,” he said.

Restaurants in other Charles County cities, like Waldorf, have had similar tents up with no problems.

If he kept the tent up, Gressis was facing a daily fine of $100. But he says he’s not giving up because the jobs of half a dozen employees are on the balance.

“I’m trying to save jobs. I’m trying to keep my employees busy. I’m trying to pay rent at my restaurant,” Gressis said.

Gressis said he will continue to apply for a permit, hoping that La Plata will allow him to keep the tent up.

News4 reached out to La Plata for comment and has not heard back.

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