San Jose sues Agave Sports Bar for prostitution, breaking COVID rules
Alarmed by what they describe as illegal and dangerous activity taking place at a seedy San Jose sports bar, the city wants to shut it down for good.
The lawsuit – filed by the City of San Jose on July 6 in Santa Clara County Superior Court – alleges that the owners and operators of Agave Sports Bar & Grill at 544 Alma Avenue encouraged prostitutes to solicit customers, authorized them. clients to leave when they are clearly intoxicated and repeatedly violate public health orders aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.
The city asks that a judge declare the sports bar a nuisance and close it permanently. The city also wants to raise more than $ 25,000 from restaurateurs for breaking city codes.
The lawsuit comes a month after a man under the influence of alcohol and cocaine left Agave and backed up his construction van against a group of unsuspecting patrons in the bar’s outdoor dining area, killing an woman and injuring two others. . Court documents later revealed that the suspect had had oral sex moments before the crash.
“When we take action like this, it’s because (the business) is causing serious quality of life issues for the community,” San Jose City Attorney Nora Frimann said in a statement. interview. “Either the business is dangerous and has health and safety issues, or there are a lot of complaints from the community.”
In this case, said Frimann, “the inappropriate and illegal activity of the establishment is dangerous to public health and depletes police resources”.
From the outside, the beige single-story building looks like a restaurant and bar with holes in the wall. A fenced-in outdoor space is dotted with tables and red umbrellas while inside disco balls hang from low ceilings, glittering against the dark walls. The sign along Alma Avenue that once bore the restaurant’s name and logo has been wiped out since the fatal accident, although the business is still in business.
In addition to the bar, the combination names owners and operators Manuel Andrade Trujillo and Lady Lizcano and Meli’s Restaurant – a second San Jose business owned by the couple where agents also discovered women soliciting prostitution. The lawsuit is also aimed at shutting down Meli’s, which is located at 3116 Alum Rock Avenue in San Jose.
Several appeals from this news organization to Agave and its owners have gone unanswered. An employee on site said on Tuesday that no manager was available to speak to a reporter.
Agave – which is not operated in association with other companies of the same name in San Jose and other Bay Area towns – has been a sore point for local law enforcement for months.
Throughout the pandemic, the restaurant has incurred $ 71,750 in civil fines from Santa Clara County for operating as an illicit nightclub in defiance of indoor dining, assembly bans and mask warrants . When public health restrictions were still in place, members of the local bar industry described the operation to a Bay Area News Group reporter as a sweatshop that provided customers with detailed instructions on how to avoid detection by the authorities.
Restaurateurs reached a compliance agreement with the county, which reduced their fines to $ 28,700. On Tuesday, they paid around $ 7,000. They have not reported any COVID-19 outbreaks in the county, according to files recently obtained by this news organization.
Since December 2020, the San Jose Police Department has conducted a handful of covert investigations into Agave and Meli’s reports on prostitution. Officers arrested at least three women who agreed to commit sex acts in exchange for money, according to the lawsuit.
In one case, a woman informed agents that employees and management knew they had initiated their acts of prostitution at the bar and that the owners paid them based on the amount of beer they encouraged customers to buy. indicates the trial.
During the same period, officers responded to at least half a dozen reports of fights, narcotics, use of weapons and gunfire in Agave, according to the prosecution.
The lawsuit says allowing the facility to continue operating could cause “serious and irreparable harm,” adding that current business practices endanger the health, safety and well-being of people in and around. of the company.