Pro-'freedom' restaurateur who bans vaccinated patrons took tens of thousands in COVID relief loans: report

Tony Roman, the owner of Basilico's Pasty E Vino in Huntington Beach, California, caused a national stir when he put up a sign demanding that only unvaccinated people dine at his establishment, along with "Wanted" posters of national COVID-19 adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci and California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The ensuing controversy led to a segment on CNN's "Cuomo Prime Time" in which Roman insisted that his decision to bar vaccinated customers was about being "pro-freedom," which prompted anchor Chris Cuomo to tell him, "You sound like an idiot."

But on Thursday, The Daily Beast reported that on the business side of things, Roman appears to be taking the COVID-19 pandemic more seriously than his public stunts would imply.

"While they were happy to ignore government advice and criticize government officials, they were more than happy to take a government handout intended to help businesses weather a pandemic they don't believe in," reported Cheyenne Ubiera. "The restaurant took a $58,000 the Paycheck Protection Program loan. 'It's our money, not theirs!' owner Tony Roman wrote on Facebook when a local outlet broke the news. 'Because it's our money, we took it back and put it where it belongs, in our bank account.'"

According to a report last year, Basilico's, which has been engaging in anti-public-health stunts for months and racked up multiple citations for ignoring pandemic restrictions, is at risk of losing its liquor license.