Rowena Coetsee of the Contra Costa Times is reporting that Carpaccio Ristorante will be fined $2,526—three times the cost of the food facility permit it’s applied for—before the county will sign off on the document.
The fine stems from the restaurant serving food to during the Contra Costa County Mayors Conference where mayors from 19-contra Costa Cities were in attendance including county and state officials. I requested information on the dinner plans prior to the event starting which were kept a big mystery where the agenda was not matching up with the dinner plans since Carpaccios was not yet completed. My request went ignored by Bryan Montgomery and Kevin Romick. The only response I received was from Executive Director Gary Pokorny where he stated that they would go to a location within walking distance of the conference–that of course didn’t happen as the food was brought to the conference.
The truth is, the City of Oakley knowingly broke the law. If they didn’t know then they are either playing stupid or they are unqualified to serve as employs of this city. The reality is in order to save face on “Carpaccios’, the City decided it was in their best interest to put the other 19-mayors in Contra Costa County in jeopardy. They knowingly broke the rules, skirted the rules and it can’t be excused. It’s a shame that Manuel Munoz was the only one fined because the City also acted recklessly and those from the city staff involved should also be personally fined.
The Times is also reporting that Carpaccio also skirted fire safety rules, which stipulate that alarms, sprinklers and, in the case of a restaurant, commercial kitchen suppression systems must be installed and working before employees can do any on-site work.
Carpaccio doesn’t yet have a license to serve alcohol, either — the state won’t grant that permission until it has conducted a final inspection — but the law makes an exception for private events where alcohol is neither sold nor normally stored and served.
While the Times is reporting Carpaccio’s doesn’t have an alcohol license, that is not what Bryan Montgomery said in an email to the City Council (including Hardcastle and Burgis) on December 7th in response to an email from Michelle Buchholtz from Hook, Line and Sinker where she and her husband Gene Buchholtz observed the events unfold and state they have pictures–they are also the ones who contacted the County Health Department. Here is an email I obtained via records request of an email from Michelle Buchholtz to the City Council followed by Montgomery’s response to the City Council.
Dear Oakley City Council members:
Last night, we watched as the City of Oakley hosted the Contra Costa Mayors Conference at the Oakley City Hall . For the past several weeks, Mr. Montgomery and Mayor Romick have been telling the public that the dinner following the meeting, would be held at Carpaccio’s and if the restaurant was not yet open, Carpaccio’s would still cater the event in the Oakley council chambers. When we were down to the day before the event, Mayor Romick was still giving the same story, but that the food would be prepared at another location since Carpaccio’s did not have the required permits. The City Manager has been telling folks and the press that Carpaccio’s has had their ABC Alcohol license for months. Anyone with half a brain knew what was going to happen.
And happen it did. Last night, we observed wait staff taking food trays out of the Carpaccio’s restaurant, loading them into a van, driving the van across the street, and unloading the food trays and taking them into the council chambers where they served hors d’oeuvres, a salad and a full hot buffet, with several wine bottles on each table. Not once, did we see anyone delivering the food that was going to be prepared “elsewhere” to Carpaccio’s. A formal complaint has been filed with the Contra Costa Environmental Health Department and will be supplemented with photos of the event.
When are you going to realize that Mr. Montgomery believes he is above the law and actually do something about it? Anyone who is subject to health permits and inspections knows that this is a gross violation of the law. Anyone who has a license from the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, knows that you can’t get your license until your facility is actually open. Anyone who has done business in the City of Oakley , knows you can’t open the doors until our Planning Department gives its official stamp of approval. So how is it that Mr. Montgomery is able to jump all of these hurdles and put the health and welfare of every Mayor in Contra Costa County at risk, just to show off his latest accomplishment?
I hope our City Council members take these issues seriously. You might want to check out this post on East County Today – for a change, Mike Burkholder is right on target.
And kindly do not again instruct Mr. Montgomery to contact me with his canned responses. You will be hearing from our attorney instead.
Michelle E. Buchholz, CPA
925-625-2441 Ext. 3
Hook, Line & Sinker
3100 Main St. #260
Oakley, CA 94561
(925) 420-5953 (FAX)
Here is his full response to the accusations from Dec. 7 by Bryan Montgomery.
The Bucholz are once again displeased L. I wish their emails stemmed from a genuine concerned about the health and safety of Oakley, but their approach over time doesn’t seem consistent with that wish.
Of course it was our hope that Carpaccio’s would be ready for the Mayors Conference dinner and it almost was. A number of things have gotten in the way of meeting the desired completion date. Like us, Manuel and his team are disappointed, since their long hours often well into the night, didn’t suffice to make the goal. The effort was there, but construction can be complicated and many matters are outside of our direct control.
The near-completed facility received a preliminary fire inspection on Wednesday and a 95% Health Services inspection the week before. Both had very minor things left to finish up, but they couldn’t be done in time for last night’s dinner. (Health Service, for example, needed the trash enclosure completed with hot and cold water running, cove base tile in the restrooms and the restroom faucets were not yet installed at the time of the inspection, and an adjustment to a drain pipe at a floor sink was needed).
The owner of Carpaccio’s has two brothers and a brother in-law with restaurants in West County . The backup plan all along was to have him cater in the food at one of those restaurants and warm it here. As far as I can tell, the food (which was very good by the way) was brought in and put together and warmed up at City Hall. I’m assuming he did warm up some of the food at the new facility as his kitchen has been operational for some time since he had his 95% Health inspection. I will seek to find out more information, but it is really a matter between them and the health inspector with whom they have been working for months.
While Carpaccio didn’t serve any alcohol at the event, the ABC license for the new Carpaccio was applied for late last year and posted on the property early this year. All fees are paid and the formal license will be issued when the restaurant is open. As you know, the license process is competitive because of the limited number of licenses granted per county, but jumping on it early has secured one for the facility. (I will request a copy of the related ABC paperwork).
It actually isn’t the Planning Department, but the Building Department that conducts the final inspections and will not issue a Certificate of Occupancy on any facility until ConFire and Health Services (for food and other required establishments) confirm a successful final inspection. Those are two independent agencies and we do not have and are not able to exert any authority over them. While Health was essentially complete, the Fire inspection on Wednesday indicated a few remaining concerns, so we went to Plan B of having the meal in the Council Chambers rather than at the restaurant.
Again, I am not sure why the Bucholz express so much animosity towards me. I would hope that they and all of Oakley be cheering for this and any other new business.
Bryan H. Montgomery
3231 MAIN STREET
OAKLEY, CA 94561
So is the alcohol permit posted on the property or not? According to Montgomery, it is while the state won’t grant that permission until it has conducted a final inspection. Something is not adding up.
At the end of the day, this could have been better handled if Bryan Montgomery and Kevin Romick used better judgement. What is the big deal if Carpaccio’s did not follow through for this dinner? Dinner is either skipped and a refund is given or the City picks up the tab for a Black Bear Diner dinner or a few pizza’s are ordered from Mountain Mikes. That would have been the best choice instead of how the events went down.
Unfortunately due to the actions of our City Staff knowingly breaking the law, a restaurant was fined and given a black eye before it even opens which is the sad part in all of this.