VENTURA, Calif. -- Ventura County is taking legal action against several gyms and restaurants for violating COVID health orders.
Despite the State and local orders, it's business as usual, both outdoors and indoors at Mrs. Olson's Coffee Hut in Oxnard.
“The second wave came around and they shut us down,” said Matt Brimigion, who is the owner of Mrs. Olson’s Coffee Hut. “They offered us no money to be shut down, and there is no end is sight when the shut down will be over. This took place 22 days before Christmas so, I decided to take a stand and open up.”
The iconic breakfast spot opened in 1974. Brimigion took over four years ago, but now he says he's in danger of losing the restaurant.
“The county themselves is trying to evict me,” said Brimigion. “They are going to put a lawsuit against me, now they are coming after me for the alcohol license.”
This comes as Ventura County filed injunctions against more than a dozen local businesses for operating indoors.
“Currently there are 18 businesses, and 10 have been recently authorized by the Board of Supervisors and seven that have been in court recently,” said Charles Genkel, who is with Environmental Health Division for Ventura County.
The 18 cases include Anytime Fitness in Ventura, Simi Valley, Camarillo, Westlake and Newbury Park, Fitness 19 in Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park, Simi Valley, Camarillo and Oxnard, House of Gains in Port Hueneme, Colosseum Bootcamp in Oxnard, Gold's Gym in Thousand Oaks, The Original Pizza Cookery in Thousand Oaks, Mrs. Olson’s Coffee Hut in Oxnard, Allison’s Country Café in Ventura, and Good Morning Cafe in Camarillo.
After shutting down for several months at the beginning of the pandemic, owner Sally Ramos from Allison’s Country Cafe says they spent $35,000 on an outdoor dining area. Then they were ordered to shut down again. Ramos says staying closed is no longer an option, and takeout breakfast doesn't work.
“I don’t know if you have ever had a waffle in a box? Eggs in a box? We are just not that kind of business,” said Ramos.
“These businesses have ultimately defied the public health order,” said Genkel. “We have done a tremendous amount of outreach. We provided the education, and we have issued notices and they continue to operate.”
Many business owners say if they shut down again, they'll be shutting down for good.
“We all could just lose this industry altogether,” said Ramos. “I don’t want to drive around Ventura without all of us here, everything boarded up.”
“It is a lose lose situation for me,” said Brimigion. “If I stay closed, I lose everything. If I open, the county will force me to close and they come after me with taking away my alcohol license and trying to evict me. I have to stand up and fight. I have children I have to feed. I am just trying to survive.”
These restaurants said while they stay open they're still following CDC guidelines.
“If one of the people from the Health Department came here and showed me where I was spreading COVID at any point in time I would shut down,” said Brimigion. “The last thing I want to do is harm anyone in the community, but they don’t have any of that. I don’t feel like we are doing anything wrong. We have a right to make a living.”