A downtown Vancouver restaurant says Vancouver police “grossly exaggerated” the number of people who attended its New Year’s Eve party.
Over the weekend, Cold Tea, a modern Chinese-Vietnamese restaurant located near Granville and Davie streets, came under fire after the VPD reported that it held a massive New Year’s Eve party with roughly 100 people in attendance.
In its media release issued Jan. 1, 2021, the VPD state that officers responded to a call around 11 p.m. about a private, closed-door party at the restaurant.
Officers estimate that approximately 100 people were in attendance, and food and alcohol were being served. However, Vancouver bars and restaurants were prohibited from serving alcohol after 8 p.m. on New Year Year’s Eve.
The owners were issued a violation ticket for $2,300 and the party was shut down.
In an email to Vancouver Is Awesome, the owners of Cold Tea, Paul Rivas and Ron Cheng, write that police never “did a headcount” and that there were “38 people, not 100.”
The owners add that the 38 people were sitting at “socially distanced tables,” but that “Unfortunately when the police stormed the restaurant through the back door, the optics weren’t good, as the group was in the process of taking pictures together, maskless.”
Rivas and Cheng say, “The group was in the process of leaving so they thought no need to call the police to assist them,” but add, “It was however after the 10 p.m. time to vacate.”
Sale and service of alcohol not permitted after 8 p.m.
While Cold Tea’s owners note that the group was in the process of leaving, the VPD state that alcohol and food were being served at 11 p.m., when it shut the party down.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry made the announcement regarding alcohol on Wednesday (Dec. 30) afternoon during the daily coronavirus (COVID-19) briefing.
Henry said the order was an attempt to mitigate “risky behaviour” and curb parties from springing up, particularly in resort towns where New Year’s Eve celebrations are common.
Rivas and Cheng add that “they have high standards and protocols regarding covid, and will continue to do so.”
The pair add that they struggled to open during the pandemic: “[We] had it a lot harder than most other restaurants as they are considered a startup and did not qualify for any grants or financial help from the government.
“At the end of the day Cold Tea was simply trying to survive and make rent for this month, they had no intention of breaking the regulations.”
Rivas and Cheng also say they’ve received “hateful comments with racist undertones directed to them on social media” and that their “restaurant has been physically vandalized because of this situation.”
V.I.A. has reached to the VPD for comment.