Eagle Rock - They’re just small bistro tables - four of them, set out near Swork Cafe at the corner of Colorado and Eagle Rock boulevards.
But these days, that counts as highly visible protest.
A notice on the table says, “I need to work too and because my patrons are unable to sit and enjoy coffee here - in the open air, six feet away from another patron, I am exercising my right to peaceful protest.”
Since putting out chairs with these tables, Swork has gotten attention from the L.A. times, KFI radio, Fox and Friends, and CBS news, according to the cafe’s owner, Patricia Neale Vuagniaux.
She also got attention from an anonymous caller, though, who claimed to be a nurse and threatened to call the health department if Vuagniaux didn’t put the chairs away. Once Vuagniaux informed the caller she was driving with her daughter, the caller also said Vuagniaux was a bad mother.
“We’ve f***ing lost our minds in this town,” Vuagniaux said. “F***ing lost our minds.”
Vuagniaux placed the notices on the tables last week, and brought out the chairs on Monday. She removed the chairs after the anonymous phone call. But the tables remain as they have for the last 20 years - now with plants on them - since the cafe would look closed if she brought them in.
She said she has faced no blowback from the County, however - and indeed, has nothing but praise for the health department
“They’re my friends. I love the health department,” Vuagniaux said, adding they’ve been empathetic throughout the pandemic and the various restrictions. “They’re as confused as we are.”
Currently, Vuagniaux said, the restaurant is only open for the sake of her employees, some of whom have not lived in California long enough to get unemployment. But even removing the chairs has made a critical difference.
“As soon as I put the chairs away, I knew I’d lose 30 percent of my business,” she said. “Now I can’t make payroll.”