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Days after the Louisiana Department of Health revoked Firehouse BBQ's food permit for violating social distancing rules, customers come and go Monday, Aug. 3, 2020 at the defiant Denham Spring eatery, which has no requirements for masks for customers or employees.

A Livingston Parish district judge has told state officials to not take any further action against a Watson restaurant that has been violating coronavirus-related restrictions until a hearing can be held next week.

State inspectors recently found that Firehouse BBQ was not complying with an order from Gov. John Bel Edwards limiting crowd sizes and requiring workers to wear masks. The Louisiana Department of Health in turn voided the restaurant's food permit and sought an order to shutter the restaurant, which Judge Brenda Bedsole Ricks approved last week.

The restaurant's owner ignored the orders, however, and this week the Health Department asked the judge to hold the owner in contempt. The restaurant in return asked the court to order the state to back off.

In an order signed Wednesday, Judge Brian K. Abels issued a temporary order against any further state action pending a previously scheduled hearing set for next Tuesday. While the owner initially asked for a permanent injunction, the judge, in a partially handwritten order, said only that the state cannot take further action before next week's hearing.

The restaurant is owned by Eunice Danielle Bunch through God's Table, LLC, and she posted a hand-written sign to the restaurant’s windows calling the mask requirement an "illegal mask mandate." She has said some of her employees had adverse medical reactions to covering their faces.

The Health Department’s actions marked the first time a state agency moved to close a restaurant for not following Gov. John Bel Edwards' emergency order. The state had previously taken on bars.

Editor’s Note: Due to incorrect information in legal documents filed by the Department of Health, a previous version of this story gave the wrong name of the owner of Firehouse BBQ. The owner is Eunice Danielle Bunch.

Email Jacqueline DeRobertis at