A Monterey coffeehouse has been ordered to close after repeated COVID-19 safety violations, the county’s district attorney said.
The order from Monterey County Superior Court requires the owner, Richard Dunnuck, to close Aloha Coffee and Cafe until he obtains a valid food service permit and complies with the restrictions of the state’s stay-home and face covering orders, Monterey County District Attorney Jeannine Pacioni announced on Thursday.
“The county tried education. Health inspectors came to their restaurant multiple times to inform them on their violations, but it didn’t work,” Hickok said. “So, they sent paperwork that their permit was in jeopardy if they didn’t comply, and they still didn’t.”
County records show that the cafe was visited five times by health inspectors before the permit was revoked through an administrative hearing order.
Even after losing their permit, Aloha Coffee and Cafe remained open and continued to serve customers.
“Despite the administrative hearing order, they still did not comply, so this is why the district attorney stepped in,” Hickok said.
Dunnuck told the Monterey Herald that he decided to remain open because the county deprived him of due process and violated state and U.S. constitutional protections. He is claiming he is exempt from the face-covering order for medical and religious reasons.
Monterey County Superior Court Judge Lydia M. Villarreal granted a temporary restraining order — a legal way of requiring the business to close. The restraining order is based on the business’s violations of state unfair-competition laws, which prohibit companies from profiting off of unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business acts or practices.
The order specifies monetary fines of up to $2,500 per violation.
“Through the lawsuit, we will prove how many violations they have,” Hickok said. “A violation could count as every customer they served without a face covering, every day they operated without their permit. And their permit was revoked on Dec. 2, so that is at least 30 days in violation.”
The civil lawsuit will be heard Jan. 14.
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