The City of Monterey’s Aloha Coffee and Cafe and its owner have received a temporary restraining order to close shop after repeated COVID-19 safety violations, Monterey County District Attorney Jeannine Pacioni announced on Thursday.
The order requires the owner, Richard Dunnuck, to close the business until he obtains a valid food service permit as well as complies with the state’s Regional Stay at Home Order and face covering orders.
Dunnuck lost his food service permit in early December after he, his employees and customers violated the face covering requirements on multiple occasions, Deputy District Attorney Emily Hickok said.
“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County records show that the cafe was visited five times by health inspectors before the permit was revoked through an administrative hearing order.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 food service 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.
Monterey County Superior Court Judge Lydia M. Villarreal granted a temporary restraining order — a legal way of requiring the business to close.
The temporary restraining order is based on the business’ violations of state unfair competition laws which prohibits companies from profiting off of unlawful, unfair, or fraudulent business act or practices. Violating state and local health orders, Hickok said, fits that description.
The violation also comes with 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 And their permit was revoked on Dec. 2, so that is at least 30 days in violation.”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.
The temporary restraining order will remain in effect until the court terminates it.