Hundreds show support for fruit business called ‘illegal’ in viral video

La Palma Fresh Fruit serves a line of customers in Canyon Country Monday afternoon. July 13, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.
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Hundreds lined up Monday on a Canyon Country sidewalk to buy fresh fruit in support of two friends’ fruit business, a day after a local couple was recorded on video telling the street vendors to leave. 

Donning face masks, Leobardo Ramirez and Sergio Medina, L.A. residents who own the La Palma Fresh Fruit, served fruit nonstop for hours on the corner of Sand Canyon and Soledad Canyon roads. 

Leobardo Ramirez (right) and Sergio Medina, left, chop and serve fruit for the business La Palma Fresh Fruit in Canyon Country on Monday, July 13, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

“We’ve been here since 1 p.m. and we’ve served about 400 to 500 people,” Ramirez said in Spanish, simultaneously peeling mangoes. “It feels so great to see all the support from the community. Thank you.”

The large turnout, which included several donations in both cash and at least one cart full of fruit, followed a viral video on social media that showed the interaction between the men who took the video defending the fruit vendors and the couple. 

Sergio Medina, right, serves fruit to customers lining up in front of La Palma Fresh Fruit in Canyon Country on Monday, July 13, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal

The men started recording after the couple yelled at the vendors to leave the location, which was on a Sand Canyon Road sidewalk just feet away from a Mobil gas station that is about several hundred feet away from the couple’s business Bergie’s Bar and Grill. Footage showed the man who was upset at the vendors calling their business “illegal” and said, “We aren’t the (expletive) ghetto. It needs to go.” 

Customers Amber Osby, far right, and Danya Driskell wave to cars honking to show their support of La Palma Fresh Fruits Monday afternoon. July 13, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal

Since the viral video, hundreds of low-star ratings were posted on Yelp about Bergie’s, prompting the online company to disable additional posts while they worked “to investigate the content.” 

Bergie’s did not return requests for comment Monday. 

Ramirez said he was unaware of Santa Clarita’s permit laws, which require street vendors to have a special or temporary permit to sell in any public right-of way. 

Leobardo Ramirez (right) and Sergio Medina, left, chop and serve fruit for the business La Palma Fresh Fruit in Canyon Country on Monday, July 13, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

“We don’t want to harm anyone. We want to obtain a permit and grow the business,” said Ramirez. “We started this business because of the pandemic, and it’s really important to us because we also have families to support.” 

A GoFundMe to support the business’ growth had raised more than $2,300 of $10,000 by Monday. 

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