Fountain Hills restaurant cited, accused of violating Governor’s Executive Order – AZFamily

Restaurant News

FOUNTAIN HILLS, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) – Euro Pizza Cafe in Fountain Hills was issued a citation for violating the Governor’s Executive Order; however, the owner plans to fight it.

“We have this new system of procedures that we’re trying to get used to and meantime keep the customers safe and happy, and now you have to deal with these annoyances. I mean, it’s a lot,” Merita Kraya, the owner, said. “All I’m trying to do is just keep my business going, and hopefully, we come out thriving on the other side, but yes, it has slowed down a little bit.”

Fountain Hills restaurant cited

On March 19, Governor Doug Ducey ordered all restaurants to begin providing takeout orders only. On March 21, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (MCSO) received the first complaint about Euro Pizza Cafe violating that order.

“The town is saying they got a complaint saying that you’re still serving people at the bar,” the deputy can be heard saying on body camera footage. “They are taking everything to go,” Kraya explained. “Wherever they go is up to them. I’m not serving anybody to eat inside.”

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MCSO used the visit to educate Kraya on the new regulations. Kraya closed her patio in the back and the front of the restaurant; however, the complaints kept coming in.

“You guys are fine. The restaurants aren’t allowed to be allowing any onsite dining, so it’s not your guys’ issue, it’s their issue,” another deputy is heard telling people sitting outside on March 27.

“You can’t be out at an establishment like this sitting and eating,” a deputy said on April 1 to customers. “We’re not issuing citations or anything like that. It is a class 1 misdemeanor, though, so we are educating people and trying to talk to them to let them know.”

Kraya said where people were eating their meals and drinking beer was a “common area” and public property. However, the tables and chairs in that area belong to her.

“The main patio was closed and tables stacked and stuff, there is a side which is right by the park, normally a dog-friendly area. There were 3 or 4 tables where people would sit with the dogs and have coffee and water and all that,” Kraya explained. “I can’t control where they go once they leave from here. I’m not going to chase them around the park.”

Kraya told deputies that an inspector from the health department came out to her restaurant and said she was in compliance; however, deputies said the health inspector was only looking at food safety.

Deputies also reached out to the property manager, who was also trying to get Kraya to comply and move all of the tables and chairs inside.

On April 4, a deputy checked on the restaurant after receiving a complaint of people on the patio. It turned out to be Kraya and her chef doing paperwork.

On April 5, two more deputies stopped by the restaurant. In the breezeway, other businesses had tables and chairs outside, and they asked them to bring them in. One of the deputies got into an argument with Kraya about to-go beers, which she explained to them, she cannot control what her customers do in the common area.

By April 7, a deputy came back to the restaurant with a citation, noting that a booth was still outside of the restaurant.

“The booth was there; I didn’t know if there was a table there,” the deputy said. “The booth has no place to go, it’s not move-able,” Kraya explained.

The deputy handed her a citation for a violation of the executive order, which is a class 1 misdemeanor.

“I don’t know why ultimately we got it. I think they just needed to make an example, and I was an easy target because I’m probably by the park,” Kraya said.

Kraya has hired an attorney and plans to fight the citation. A statement from Euro Pizza can be read below.

Source: Thanks