ORCUTT, Calif. - The owner of a wine bar in Old Town Orcutt is facing multiple misdemeanor charges for keeping his business open during the pandemic in defiance of public health orders to close.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Santa Maria superior court, Kurt Hixenbaugh, 49, has been charged with two misdemeanor counts for violating the stay-at-home order and two misdemeanor counts for failing to file a public health order.
Hixenbaugh is co-owner of Vino et Amicis on South Broadway Street. In early December, Hixenbaugh said the bar would not close after Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered many businesses, including wineries, breweries and bars to close their doors.
He announced plans to stay open during a six-minute YouTube video in which he said the winery would be standing up against the state and hoped others would follow.
At the time of the announcement, Hixenbaugh said the community reaction was mostly supportive.
The decision was made at a time when COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths were all spiking in California. Hixenbaugh said he was sympathetic to the burden facing hospitals and first responders and Vino et Amicis would continue to require face coverings and visitors would have to practice physical distancing.
Court documents show the charges are related to alleged violations in both January and December.
Hixenbaugh is due in court on April 29.