Some Nevada County businesses continue to operate despite food permit revocation
Special to the Sierra Sun
Despite receiving notices of violation Tuesday, effectively revoking their food permits, at least two local restaurants refusing to come into compliance with state COVID-19 mandates continued operations Wednesday.
On Tuesday the Nevada County Environmental Health Department gave notices to Old Town Cafe and Sergio’s Caffe in Grass Valley, and Friar Tuck’s Restaurant & Bar in Nevada City, for not adhering to the state’s July 13 order restricting indoor operations for several industries.
Old Town Cafe, which declined to comment, last week hosted U.S. Rep Doug LaMalfa and protesters against the indoor operations restrictions. The same day Friar Tuck’s owners Ken and Chad Paige said they would not adhere to the new restrictions. Sergio’s Caffe and Friar Tuck’s couldn’t be reached for comment as of Wednesday evening.
According to Environmental Health Director Amy Irani, businesses that remain open will face daily fines starting at $25 and doubling each day to a maximum of $1,000 per day. Businesses have 15 days to appeal the decision and their permit will be suspended in the interim.
“We have handed out documentation and guidance, we’ve continued to do that all last week, even though they were refusing to come into compliance, we still tried to educate them,” Irani said. “Failure to comply unfortunately results in enforcement action, which is the last thing we want to do.”
Irani said those businesses could begin the process of reinstating their permit after the Environmental Health Department inspects their facility and validates that they made the changes necessary to meet compliance.
“Grass Valley and Nevada City folks have done a great job of blocking off streets and allowing folks to set tables outside, so there’s been many opportunities to have facilities set up so they can continue their operation,” she said.
While the three businesses are the only ones to receive notices of violations so far, county officials said One 11 restaurant and bar and Cala Lily Crepes are being monitored for compliance concerns.
The county will continue to monitor businesses in a complaint-driven process and issue fines for those that don’t comply. One business they’ve worked with previously, Valentina’s Organic Bistro and Bakery, said it would not actively enforce the order.
“(Governor) Gavin Newsom ordered all of the restaurants to dine out in his guidelines, and I’m telling you that’s illegal,” owner Valentina Masterz said. “However, some people are choosing to stay in here and they don’t want to leave. So I don’t have any authority as a human being to go to them and kick them out.”
According to Masterz, she will follow the order when it is enacted through the proper protocols.
Irani said the notices were also forwarded to Alcohol Beverage Control for businesses that have an alcohol license.
“If we get complaints of other facilities that are operating indoors, yes, we’ll go out, we’ll inspect them and try to get them to come into compliance first and hand them documentation, and if they continue we’ll be forced to issue a notice of violation,” she said. “The (Environmental Health Department) does not go out and shut down to the point where they barricade a facility.”
John Orona is a staff writer for The Union, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun based in Grass Valley. Contact him via email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229. Multimedia Reporter Elias Funez contributed reporting.
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As of Thursday morning, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nevada County had reached 3,988. There are 63 new cases since last Thursday, Feb. 25, indicating a 2% increase.