Hernandez Hideaway goes COVID-19 rogue

Hernandez Hideaway owner Rick Stevens (right, in green shirt) got all hot and bothered when confronted for the umpteenth time last week by authorities for violating San Diego County COVID-19 protection guidelines. After saying he would ignore county safety guidelines, Stevens finally caved in this weekend and targeted the restaurant for legal re-opening on Sunday, June 28/NBC 7 screenshot

Ah, “historic” Hernandez Hideaway, Del Dios — on the shores of Lake Hodges — ode to risky business and no, the founder did NOT invent the margarita; got shut down this week.

Blame it on COVID-19. along with the owner’s vile violation of San Diego County restaurant re-opening guidelines. Turns out social distancing and sanitation procedures at the fabled headquarters of the Hodgee Monster Appreciation Society were well below COVID fighting code.

Hernandez Hideaway was only the second restaurant shut down by county officials since dine-in service was phased into the county’s reopening plan on May 21. El Prez in Pacific Beach was closed the day after dine-in service returned after videos surface showing “egregious” non compliance.

The scene of the coronavirus grime was deemed an imminent health and safety risk and health hazard, according to county officials, and was ordered to close immediately Thursday, June 25.

That was the culmination of a monthlong running battle between Hideaway owner Rick Stevens, a Trump supporter, that went viral last week. Shortly after deputies arrived at the restaurant, on Thursday, a man who identified himself as Stevens showed up and he was served the order to close within 30 minutes.

Stevens had several chances to get right with the law and the times, all to no avail. San Diego Sheriff’s deputies visited the restaurant and asked for voluntary compliance on June 12, 21, and 23.

Tensions eventually blew up, up and away Thursday as Stevens could be heard yelling at deputies to leave his property.

“You’re not on the right side of this,” Stevens said to deputies as he led them out the front door. “You guys suck. You ‘ought to be ashamed of yourself.”

Another person wearing an apron appeared to be recording the conversation on a cell phone.

The heated conversation continued in the parking lot of the restaurant as Stevens approached a group of deputies.

At one point Stevens was heard mansplaining to a deputy, “So go get the ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) and quit being a donkey.”

Stevens hurled more insults at deputies while demanding to see documents related to the closure. Minutes later, the group of deputies went back to their vehicles and left.

When an NBC 7 reporter approached Stevens and another woman outside, they said they were served with an order to close the restaurant, but claimed the restaurant was adhering to social distancing and face covering mandates.

Stevens was later seen leading customers to their cars and taking down “open now” signs displayed outside, all while accusing NBC 7 and Telemundo 20 news crews, who were filming from across the street on public property, of biased reporting.

Living for the good news

Aw hell, one more shot before we go of Hernandez Hideaway owner Rick Stevens — this time with a mask; hallelujah, miracles do happen — as he gets in the face (and lens) up close and personal with a KNSD videographer. The mask said, yup, “Make America Great Again.”/NBC 7 screenshot

The Mexican-themed restaurant had re-opened on May 21 and somehow evaded official detection for an entire month of chili verde, enchiladas and, of course, margaritavilles.

The next date with coronavirus destiny, however, is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Sunday, June 28. The venerable eatery’s Facebook page says it has revised its procedures and will be back for more of all that at that time.

And the people have spoken:

More deets on the sitch

San Diego County officials said  public health officials observed employees not wearing masks, not enforcing social distancing and sanitation protocols.

San Diego County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten pulled the plug on the — as 1950s sitcom “Life of Riley” star William Bendix used to say — revolting development.

The closure order detailed four incidents during which deputies or county Department of Environmental Health officials observed that dastardly lack of social distancing, sanitation and facial covering protocols at the restaurant at 19320 Lake Drive.

Health officials on Tuesday acted on a complaint and spoke with restaurant owner Rick Stevens, who “admitted that he was not compliant and stated he will continue to operate without these COVID preventative measures and will not require staff to wear face coverings,” Wooten said.

Testimony from “former customers” backed up the county’s claim.

“I was the only one with any mask on last time I went over there and actually got ridiculed by another patron for having a mask on. I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to submit myself to that,” said nearby resident Kelli Stiles.

Among the comments:  “No one was wearing a face mask,”… “server was not wearing a mask,”… bartender “gave me flack for wearing a mask,”… “owner boldly stated the only mask they would wear was a Halloween mask.”

In case you’re wondering, the latest Yelp reviews

Full frontal of Hernandez Hideaway/File

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