2020 | Coronavirus

Silver Spring restaurant ordered to close after multiple COVID-19 violations

Another restaurant fined $500 because someone was smoking hookah

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Logo from Society Restaurant & Lounge Facebook page

The Society Restaurant & Lounge in downtown Silver Spring has been ordered to close due to multiple violations of the county’s COVID-19 health order.

Society, at 8229 Georgia Ave., was ordered to close immediately on Tuesday, according to a copy of the county’s directive obtained by Bethesda Beat. It states that county officials determined that the restaurant is unsafe and “poses an unreasonable risk of exacerbating the spread of COVID-19” due to violations that were found during inspections on July 3 and 12 and Sept. 26.

During all three inspections, Society was found to be violating social distancing guidelines, according to a log of county businesses that have been cited for violating the order.

In the most recent inspection on Sept. 26, county inspectors found that customers were dancing on a stage on the rooftop without wearing masks, and were not social distancing. Some customers were dancing by their tables without masks, and were less than six feet from others, the report stated.

Society received a $500 citation for the violations reported in the most recent inspection. No one at the restaurant could be reached for comment.

County health inspectors also issued a $500 fine to Amy’s Tex-Mex Bar & Grill at 621 Sligo Ave. in Silver Spring on Sept. 26. According to the report, the fine was issued because people were smoking hookah on the outdoor patio.

Currently, county reopening guidelines allow hookah bars to operate, but only for retail sales. Smoking on site is not allowed.

Amy’s owner Jose Mardiaja told Bethesda Beat Tuesday evening that he doesn’t sell hookah at his restaurant. He said he didn’t understand why he was fined, since the customer smoking hookah wasn’t in the restaurant.

“He’s on the patio. He’s not inside. I don’t sell hookah in my place. I only sell beer, wine and liquor,” he said.

The county health department has been issuing citations and warnings or shutting down businesses for COVID-19-related violations, such as not social distancing or having live music or dancing.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdsamagazine.com