MONTCLAIR, NJ — After scoffing at the governor's executive orders and repeatedly allowing patrons to continue to dining inside at well over 25-percent capacity, the owner of Cuban Pete's is now locked out of his business.
On Monday morning, Montclair Police changed the locks on the doors of Cuban Pete’s restaurant, locking out the owner and workers. This was after three violations of the Executive Order, within a two-month-span.
In August, Restaino was cited for violations on two instances. In the first cited violation, police and Montclair Health Department officials were called to the establishment after receiving a tip that indoor dining was taking place, which was not allowed in the State of New Jersey at the time. The second violation occurred about two weeks later when Montclair police received a noise complaint and arrived at the restaurant to find at least three tables occupied inside.
Earlier this month, after the governor signed an executive order allowing indoor dining with a 25-percent capacity restriction, police were alerted to another violation at the Montclair establishment in which the indoor area was filled well over capacity.
When contacted after the third violation, Montclair Mayor Sean Spiller said that he would be referring the matter to the Essex County Prosecutor's Office (ECPO), which has since confirmed that the restaurant was shut down for not being "in compliance with the governor's orders."
The New Jersey Department of Health subsequently became involved, and ECPO officials assisted by changing locks on Monday.
In response to each of the violations, owner Dominick Restaino had repeatedly stated that he had no intention of complying with the order because he had to "make money." However, after seeing the locks changed on Monday, Restaino changed his tune and expressed remorse about being temporarily put out of business.
Standing outside his closed restaurant on Monday, Restaino said it felt like "a bad dream."
"I feel bad for the businesses that went under," said Restaino, adding that he understands his error and will comply with future orders once his restaurant is able to reopen.
According to the ECPO, the matter is set to be heard in court on Nov. 19.
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