By ERIN ROLL
The owner of Cuban Pete’s has reached a settlement with state health authorities, allowing the Bloomfield Avenue restaurant to reopen on the condition that it complies with all rules and restrictions on indoor dining.
On Oct. 26, county officials arrived at the restaurant and put padlocks on the gate, after the restaurant was issued three citations and seven warnings between June and October, and a closure order but continued operating.
The restaurant reopened on Nov. 6.
Settlement documents dated Thursday, Oct. 30, obtained from the Office of the Attorney General, state that the New Jersey Department of Health agreed to lift an Oct. 9 closure order issued against the restaurant for 10 executive order violations, as long as the restaurant abides by all conditions of New Jersey’s executive orders going forward.
The settlement document was signed by owner Dominick Restaino; Restaino’s attorney, Dennis Driscoll; Deputy Attorney General Deborah Shane-Held; and Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.
Cuban Pete’s was issued citations and warnings after the restaurant was found to be either allowing indoor dining while it was still prohibited, or for allowing more patrons inside the restaurant than was allowed under the 25-percent capacity rule. The New Jersey Department of Health then issued a closure order on Oct. 9 due to the number of citations and warnings, but the restaurant continued operating.
A court hearing on the matter had been scheduled for Nov. 19 in Mercer County Superior Court.
According to the settlement, on Oct. 26, lawyers for Restaino and Cuban Pete’s contacted the attorney general’s office asking for the closure order to be lifted, saying that the restaurant would comply with all restrictions, and that Restaino was willing to show cause.
Under the terms of the settlement, Cuban Pete’s must comply with all existing and subsequent executive orders concerning food and beverage establishments in New Jersey. Specifically, all tables, indoors or outdoors, must be spaced at least six feet apart at all times; all patrons must wear a mask inside the restaurant except for when they are eating or drinking; and Cuban Pete’s must limit its capacity to 49 people at a time: 25 percent of its 197-person total capacity.
The restaurant has agreed to pay the $1,141.03 in costs for securing the building. “The parties acknowledge that if Cuban Pete’s at any time is found to be in noncompliance with any of the above conditions, [the Department of Health] will issue another Closure Order, file another Order to Show Cause and seek the court’s permission to lock the premises.”
Restaurants in New Jersey will have to stop indoor dining each evening at 10 p.m. starting on Nov. 12 and switch to outdoor dining or takeout and delivery only. Restaurants and bars may no longer offer barside service as of that date as well.
Attempts to reach Restaino for comment have been unsuccessful.