Brown Street restaurant violates health mandate

Photo of El Rancho Grande as patrons gather inside.

Kaitlin Lewis    
News Editor

El Rancho Grande, a popular bar and restaurant located at 1200 Brown Street, raised concerns this past Friday after multiple accounts of the restaurant breaking COVID-19 protocols were reported.

A photo taken on the evening of Sept. 4 shows customers in El Rancho Grande violating the Dine Safe Ohio Order, which mandates all restaurants to maintain a minimum distance of six feet between employees and customers in separate parties. 

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An assistant manager of El Rancho Grande told Flyer News that the restaurant “doesn’t break the rules” and that the images being shared online must be old pictures.

Flyer News was able to authenticate that the image sent to us was taken on the night of Sept. 4, around 9:58 p.m by a UD student.

University officials said that UD Public Safety received multiple calls on Friday night about the COVID-19 violations, but El Rancho Grande was no longer open when officers responded. Public Safety did refer the calls to Public Health of Dayton and Montgomery County (PHDMC) as well as the Ohio Investigative Unit. 

PHDMC confirmed that they received a complaint about El Rancho Grande on Sept. 4, which included an image of the crowded restaurant. Public Health’s Public Information Supervisor, Dan Suffoletto, said they were not able to confirm when the picture was taken or who took the picture.

PHDMC visited the restaurant on Saturday, Sept. 5 at about 8:45 p.m. and said they did not see a crowd size similar to the one shown in the picture. Public Health did notice a table with too many customers sitting together and spoke to the restaurant about correcting the violation.  

Suffoletto said that if a business is found in violation of the Dine Safe Ohio Order, they could receive up to a $750 fine or 90 days in jail. For a business to face fines, a violation would have to be referred to the Montgomery County Prosecutor and eventually go to court.

If someone witnesses a COVID-19 violation, they can report the incident to Public Health by filling out the form here.

President Spina said that UD will continue its work with the Ohio Investigative Unit and PHDMC and encourage them to “take action against businesses that violate state and local mandates.” Spina also said that the university will be working to identify the students who violated safety protocols and hold them accountable for doing so.

“This is particularly disappointing, not only to the university faculty and staff who have been working so hard, but especially to the thousands of UD students who are behaving responsibly,” Spina said.