WAYNE, NJ – The Wayne Town Council turned down an application for a license for Head To Toe Massage and Spa at 1581 Route 23 in Wayne in September. The denial was met with little notice or fanfare. A month later, Michael Rubin, an attorney representing the owner of the Spa was back before the Town Council asking for reconsideration. While the matter was discussed, several infractions were brought to light and, in the end, the Council did not change its mind.
According to statements made by Rubin near the end of the October 21 Wayne Town Council public meeting, the owner of Head to Toe bought the spa in March of 2020 and was almost immediately shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“There is no question that my client made a mistake,” Rubin began and told the story of the new owner who heard in July that the Governor was allowing businesses to open and thought she could open using the past owner’s business license. When she was caught illegally operating the business, the owner paid a “substantial fine” and was re-inspected. According to Rubin, there were no violations found, and the Wayne Township Health Department, led by Public Health Officer Mary Ann Orapello would not be making any recommendations to the Council on whether to grant a license or not.
Councilman David Varano spoke up: “That seems inconsistent with some of the information we received from the Clerk’s office.”
“Based on the history of this establishment, Mary Ann had no confidence that they were going to follow the code,” said Wayne Township Clerk Paul Margiotta. “They were in violation several times for being unlicensed; not just once.”
“Althogh they passed their last health inspection and meet the requirements of the code,” explained Margiotta, “Mary Ann, having some experience with this establishment, had no confidence that they were going to comply with the rules and regulations.”
Margiotta then explained that when the health inspectors went out to the establishment in July, they found an unlicensed therapist giving a massage, that the patron who was receiving the massage had not registered, which was part of the new code, and one of the workers ran out of the building, while another locked themselves in a bathroom.
The owner ended up pleading guilty in court and paid over $600 in fines.
Rubin said: “You are absolutely right, they pled guilty, they paid their fines, and they cleaned up their act.”
“I find it funny,” said Councilman Joseph Schweighardt. “It seems that you and your client feel that operating without a license and then paying a fine for operating without a license, not once but twice, is simply a normal cost of doing business. And yet you seem to minimize all the health code violations that were in the report.”
“I counted fourteen different violations,” added Councilman Al Sadowski, who then listed them all. “Operating without a license. Employees without a license. Not having proper inspections performed. Two employees observed, that were not on the paperwork, one ran out the rear door and one hid in a restroom. All therapists must have government issued photo IDs. Failure to post prices or rates.”
“Here’s the stuff that scares me, especially during COVID,” Sadowski added. “Pillows used in the massage rooms not covered with clean, laundered sheets; unable to clean between clients. Lotions and creams in tubs with no dispensers being used. No wall mounted soap and paper towel dispensers available at hand sinks in treatment rooms. No paper towels provided. No written disinfection plans for linens, towels, hot stones or reusable instruments. Failure to require customers to complete an intake prior to performing services. Bulk food storage and meal preparation on premises. Personal affects observed throughout establishment.”
“At this point, we’ve seen two different comments from the health department that they denied this applicant,” Sadowski said in conclusion. “I’m not sure what else we need to talk about here.”
Sadowski was right. There was no happy ending for the spa owner as the Wayne Town Council did not reconsider their original denial of a license, and Head to Toe must remain closed.