Was ‘Cold Tea’ Appropriately Punished for Hosting a 100-Person New Year’s Eve Party?

Cold Tea just hours before its first service in June, 2020.

As noted in this morning’s Intelligence Briefs and reported by Global News, Vancouver restaurant Cold Tea was busted for serving a 100-person private party on New Years Eve. Owners Paul Rivas and Ron Cheng have since claimed the number of attendees was actually less than 50, but I don’t really see how that matters…

“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.”

With so many restaurants enduring so much suffering by following the rules laid down by BC’s health authorities, it’s a painful thing to see one flout the rules so recklessly and selfishly. BCRFA President Ian Tostenson 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 8pm.”

Cold Tea’s standing within the hospitality industry will have taken a big hit for sure, but many are wondering out loud if that reputational punishment – plus the $2,300 fine – is anywhere near enough. Tostenson, for example, suggested a ‘six-figure’ penalty would be more appropriate. For me personally, kicking an already struggling restaurant when it’s down feels entirely wrong, but so does the pittance of the fine  — so I’m stuck on a fence. What do you think?

What's the appropriate punishment for Cold Tea?

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There are 22 comments

  1. The fine will not deter others from thinking the rules also do not apply to them. It is reckless and arrogant to flaunt rules that other restaurants are complying with.

  2. The analogy of kicking them when they are down is not applicable – that evokes a cowardly assault, which this clearly isn’t. The reason we have fines is to deter behaviour that’s illegal, in this case because it’s judged by the people who have been appointed due to their domain expertise to make such judgments to be an assault on public health. Will a $2300 fine deter such behaviour? Probably not, but it’s not clear to me what leeway the authorities have to set a penalty after the fact. I’d like to sympathize with the owners of this business, but the tears just won’t come.

  3. They need to be penalized. I’m definitely of the mind that the additional restrictions on restaurants and bars for NYE came down way, way too late and I imagine many restaurants suffered unfortunate financial consequences at no fault of their own. But pretty much all of the other establishments chose to abide by the rules anyways.

    This was absolutely reckless and brazen on behalf of the restaurant. Even if they were all negative for COVID, it’s just arrogant. The $2,300 is a drop in the bucket compared to what this restaurant would have netted from a party of “30-100 people” (after the new required sales cut-off). It’s inconsequential. Thankfully, they may have punished themselves more after – instead of just shutting up and paying their fine – they decided to release a ridiculous statement to dispute the “over-exaggerations” of the VPD while still admitting to violating several of the measures that were in play. Kick rocks.

  4. Each of the attendies should have been fined the $230.00 that has been mandated personally, as well.

  5. I think that people have a general misunderstanding of how fines can be applied, the “escalating” nature of them, and how easily shaken they are in court. Some of these fines are going to be difficult to stick. The liquor licence angle however is much easier to apply and is far more punitive anyway.

  6. How about the owners each do 100 hours of community service, an hour for each guest they hosted. The service could be helping call the surviving families of Covid victims to inform them their loved one has died.

  7. This whole situation sucks. Their business was doomed from the beginning by having to open during the pandemic but they did choose to do so; a big fine would not really do anything as they have stated that they are on the verge of bankruptcy; and a month long liquor license just prolongs the inevitable.

    The right coarse of action is for them to lose their business license for breaking the rules. By all accounts they seem to have a restaurant with good food and service but the owners have proven themselves not to be fit to run a business responsibly and serve their community’s best interests as well as their own.

    This business won’t succeed so it is now about establishing a deterrent for other businesses to not to break the rules going forward.

  8. The question is: Did the Vancouver Police counted the number of people or did they just guessed the number? Do the VPD have a video of the restaurant form the night in question?
    As to the fine….it is what it is. The fine is part of doing business in the city.

  9. Cold Tea is garbage and should be shutdown. $1,000,000 fine is more appropriate. Burn in hell losers!

  10. The argument that the restauranteurs made is that there weren’t nearly that many people and it wasn’t as bad as portrayed… but they still broke the rules. They deserve punishment.
    If they’re lying to defend themselves, they’re trying desperately to hold on, they f—ed up and they should pay the price.

    If they’re telling the truth, they should take the fine to court. Show the footage that proves there were less than 40 people in the restaurant. Let’s remember these are *cops* we’re taking the word of here. They may not win, but they’ll have an official record of not being thoughtless twits.

    Either way, they did the wrong thing (I wasn’t doing 100 in a 40 zone, I was doing 60!)

  11. So we send our kids to school. We all shop at Best Buy for “essential” Bluetooth earbuds. We can all take our masks off to eat around each other. I don’t blame them for not taking this half hearted quarantine serious either. The reason Covid is rampant here and not in China is because they understand what a quarantine is. One month, no one leaves the house. Period. Everyone gets tested. Period. The media and government love these stories so we blame the Covid spike on each other and not the fact that they have mismanaged this health crisis because they are incompetent.

    If AIDS was airborne would you accept the same quarantine response or would you suddenly realize that we have not done a single day of actual quarantine??

  12. “Steven Westfall
    Jan 5, 2021 at 7:47 am
    Cold Tea is garbage and should be shutdown. $1,000,000 fine is more appropriate. Burn in hell losers!”

    This article is another example of how the media is allowing people to verbally abuse and vandalize this small business. Keep in mind it is one or two people personally reading and receiving these messages.

    Scout please do your part and choose not to publish comments that are violent or triggering, these people desperately need a break.

    As for the what Cold Tea deserves, what they did is wrong and they will need to face the consequences. I can assure you one small fine & media backlash is enough for this restaurant to not survive, so maybe leave it at that and move on.

  13. @Ian well said !!!
    The western society is all about rules for thee but not for me.
    What is the difference between this being restaurant being opened on New Year’s Eve and London Drugs being opened with people next to each other every day?
    The answer is simple: big business has more power over politicians than a single person.

  14. Shut them down is the only answer. Pull their Buisness and Liquor license.
    Loser super spreaders.

  15. Funny ,you guys are judges an executioners, always with the small guys!

    Let’s see: airlines packed to the riim
    Costco a shit show
    Parties held in Granville st during Halloween
    Government called for early election during pandemic and is ok!

    No way I agreed with what the restaurant did, but I wish you guys were more active bitching towards our government with the way is dealing with international travelling
    And the economy!
    Eventually this virus will be controlled,
    What’s coming afterwards is to be worried about!

  16. The real kicker will be if even one person goes there with the virus, and spreads it.

  17. 291 Days to make rules for New Years Eve and the NDP choose to change the rules 20 hours beforehand. That is just incompetence and the highest level. The government should have had to reimburse the restaurants and their minimum wage workers for lost revenues. It seems very unfair for the BC Government to pick on minimum wage earners like that
    I don’t have an issue with the ruling, and I doN’t support the actions of the restaurant (though I understand their desperation), but waiting until the last minute to change the rules for NYE was just heartless.

  18. I know one of the owners and he’s a nice guy, so I wish their business well. I had planned on at least getting take out till vaccine time, and hope their business survives the pandemic.

    That being said, even if it was “only” 38 people and people were “only” taking their masks off for pictures, and the police “stormed” through the back entrance, the restaurant still admits that they were facilitating dangerous conditions that could easily lead to more viral spread. So let’s assume no one who is in attendance dies or gets really sick people they could easily catch the disease in those conditions and pass it on to someone else who could get really sick and die. Considering the level of virus circulating in the community at the moment the chances of that happening are quite high. As such, I think a one-month liquor license suspension would be very fair.

    With this in mind, I’d like to see people engaged in such behaviour (i.e. “private party attendees”) ticketed as well. Individuals who choose to behave this way need to be fined. This idea that “party hosts” should take full responsibility, including restaurants, is absurd.

    We can’t expect restaurants to police people every second of the day if we’re allowing these places to stay open. Additionally, we literally don’t have the police to police everywhere, nor does anyone really want that.

    Finally, I think anyone who is okay with dine-in service at a restaurant right now is an anti-scientific moron who is putting society’s health at risk. And for what exactly? Why we’re keeping this pandemic going through such a non-essential activity I can’t fathom and just don’t understand how one can can think going to a restaurant right now is a comforting activity. Do you actually enjoy it?

    I feel bad for the business owners and employees, but life is more important, and viruses don’t give a shit if you want to jam food and drinks down your gullet and spread your death juice to everyone within air currents of you. I get that curbing operating hours is meant to curb the mathematical opportunity (through less time open) for the virus to spread, but the virus is still going to spread in these conditions. Keep your death juice to yourself, log onto an app, and suck it up until you take the damn vaccine.

  19. To David. You are an idiot. People that are ok with dine in at restaurants are supporting the business so they don’t go bankrupt. Not everyone likes to cook at home. The gov caused to much financial harm by changing the rules one day before. The government should pay every business that forced to close early for their losses.

    This government keeps making stupid decisions like closing movie theatres. Going to the theatre was safe. Cineplex is still open in Saskatchewan. Cineplex reduces capacity and very safe.

    People as so stupid in BC.

    Border should be reopened.