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No Charges for Local Restaurants Cited by ABC During COVID-19

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Three restaurants cited for failure to comply with state mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic won’t face criminal charges from the Fresno District Attorney’s Office.

Recently, agents with the  California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control cited restaurants for operating indoors. The restaurants were Pismo’s (twice), Culichi Town on West Shaw Avenue, Luna’s, and House of JuJu.

Portrait of Fresno County DA Lisa Smittcamp

“The legislature of the State of California and Governor Newsom continue to create and implement policies that promote the de-criminalization of activities that many in law enforcement consider to be harmful to the health and safety of Californians, yet they want to make criminals out of people who are trying to make a living, keep their employees working, and attempting to stimulate our local economy while also respecting the health and welfare of our community.” – Fresno County DA Lisa Smittcamp

The DA’s Office didn’t name the restaurants in a news release announcing the decision not to file charges. However, DA Lisa Smittcamp said that the restaurants have worked with the Fresno County Department of Public Health to become compliant.

District Attorney’s Decision

Smittcamp said she was declining charges for insufficient evidence and the fact there are several administrative remedies the state could have taken.

“The legislature of the State of California and Governor Newsom continue to create and implement policies that promote the de-criminalization of activities that many in law enforcement consider to be harmful to the health and safety of Californians, yet they want to make criminals out of people who are trying to make a living, keep their employees working, and attempting to stimulate our local economy while also respecting the health and welfare of our community,” Smittcamp said.

Clovis Avenue Eatery Manager Initially Frustrated

The day after being cited, Jesse Mendoza, manager of The Local, told GV Wire℠ he had nothing bad to say about the ABC agents. “They’re just doing their job.”

Mendoza continued: “We provide a tremendous amount of jobs throughout California. Yet big box stores such as Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Ross, they’ve able to operate at essentially normal operations with no regulatory oversight whatsoever.”

Mendoza said that when the agents stopped by his location he had a few customers eating inside.

“Even though we had them inside, we were obeying by all guidance given to restaurants in regards to sanitation. Social distancing with our tables, the whole nine yards,” he said.