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Friday, Dec 9, 2022
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OCBJ INSIDER

Rep. Lou Correa has been in Congress for four years. Last week was the first time he realized there were gas masks under chairs inside the U.S. Capitol.

“What the hell are you talking about?” he recalled telling security personnel, who were alerting officials to don the masks if the smell of tear gas made it into the Capitol during last week’s events.

Correa was in the balcony area of Congress—social distancing also applies in the legislative chambers these days—when rioters began to enter the Capitol, he told the Business Journal last Thursday night, after arriving back in OC.

Security first escorted government leadership from the area. “They grabbed Nancy [Pelosi]” and others, he recalled, estimating another 10 minutes or so passed before he was alerted that the mob “had breached the hallways.”

“It was an adrenaline rush. I got ready to fight,” recalled the 62-year-old, who expressed serious concern for older members of Congress.

“If Trumpers started punching, my instinct is to punch back. I was telling others, ‘let’s get ready.’”

It didn’t come to that, and Correa said security showed restraint by not firing on the mob.

Going forward, the Blue Dog Democrat hopes government, and the country, can put the ugly events of last week behind them and find common ground under the Biden Administration.

“We have the slimmest majority, we have to work together,” said Correa, who noted he’s part of the Problem Solvers Caucus, which aims to bring both parties together to break government gridlock.

As to growing calls for a removal of Donald Trump before the end of his term: “I voted to impeach him once, and I’m happy to do it again.”

The Ghost Kitchen concept—a food prep and cooking facility for delivery and takeout meals—has a big-name backer in OC.

CloudKitchens, a startup funded by ex-Uber CEO Travis Kalanick that rents out space to restaurant businesses, was reported by the Wall Street Journal in October to have spent upward of $130 million on properties in two dozen cities across the U.S.

About $2 million of that went to a nondescript industrial facility along Lewis Street in Anaheim last year, property records show. That’s where SocialEats Food Hall says it is setting up local operations for four new restaurant concepts; see Christopher Trela’s report on page 21 for more on their new ventures.

Other restaurant concepts, including a Thai spot, a chicken joint and a pizza place that uses the increasingly-popular cauliflower as an ingredient (see page 14), have also announced plans to use the Anaheim ghost kitchen as their base.

Irvine’s Fitness International LLC, operator of the LA Fitness gym chain, remains the country’s largest health club, reports industry trade pub Club Industry, which last week came out with its annual ranking. Its (pre-COVID) annual revenue estimate for the firm for was $2.15 billion. Post-COVID figures haven’t been disclosed yet.

Another record for the OC fitness firm: the $300 million loan it got last year under the Main Street Lending Program was the largest in the country for the $600 billion loan program, the Wall Street Journal reported last week. Fitness International carried some $1.7 billion in debt as of November, according to news reports.

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Mark Mueller
Mark Mueller
Mark is the Editor-in-Chief of the Orange County Business Journal, one of the premier regional business newspapers in the country. He’s the fifth person to hold the editor’s position in the paper’s long history. He oversees a staff of about 15 people. The OCBJ is considered a must-read for area business executives. The print edition of the paper is the primary source of local news for most of the Business Journal’s subscribers, which includes most of OC’s major corporate and community players. Mark’s been with the paper since 2005, and long served as the real estate reporter for the paper, breaking hundreds of commercial and residential real estate stories. He took on the editor’s position in 2018.
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