A shoddy San Jose sports bar that has long angered city officials, law enforcement and neighbors will shut down for good next month.
Pursuant to a settlement agreement reached by the City of San Jose, the owners of Agave Sports Bar & Grill located at 544 Alma Avenue have agreed to cease operations by October 17 and vacate the property in the next month. Owners are also required to pay the city $ 15,000 and surrender the company’s liquor control license.
The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed by the city in July aimed at getting a judge to declare the sports bar a nuisance and shut it down permanently. The lawsuit alleged that bar owners and operators Manuel Andrade Trujillo and Lady Lizcano encouraged prostitutes to solicit customers, allowed customers to leave while intoxicated and repeatedly violated COVID-19 public health orders.
“I am excited and relieved and very happy for the neighbors who live nearby,” said City Councilor Dev Davis, who represents the area where the facility is located. “Neighbors have long complained about noise and fights in the parking lot and other suspicions of illegal activity… and it has never diminished. It has always degenerated. “
Trujillo and Lizcano also own a second business in San Jose called Meli’s Restaurant located at 3116 Alum Rock Avenue. Although agents have also discovered women soliciting prostitution at Meli’s, the owners are under no obligation to close this establishment at this time. The bylaw allows them to continue operating Meli’s as long as they follow city regulations, allow city law enforcement officers to inspect the business at any time without warning, and ensure that the windows are not tinted.
Agave – which is not operated in association with other companies of the same name in San Jose and other Bay Area towns – had been on the radar of the San Jose Police Department since December 2020, when officers have for the first time conducted a secret investigation into reports of prostitution at the bar. , according to the lawsuit. Since then, officers have arrested at least three women in Agave who agreed to perform sex acts in exchange for money, and they have responded to at least half a dozen reports of fights, drugs, drug use. guns and shots at Agave, depending on the combination.
Then, in June, Agave became the site of a fatal accident.
A man who was under the influence of alcohol and cocaine after leaving the bar backed up his construction van against a group of unsuspecting patrons in the bar’s outdoor dining area, killing one woman and injuring two others. Court documents later revealed that a woman was performing oral sex on the suspect moments before the accident.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the restaurant racked up $ 71,750 in Santa Clara County civil fines for operating as an illicit nightclub in defiance of indoor eating bans and warrants. masking. During the pandemic lockdown, members of the local bar industry described the operation to a reporter from the Bay Area News Group as a sweatshop that provided customers with detailed instructions on how to avoid detection by locals. authorities. The restaurateurs subsequently reached a compliance agreement with the county, reducing their fines to $ 28,700.
San Jose City Attorney Nora Frimann said Thursday the company had “gone too far” and the problems were “beyond what we could just achieve compliance.”
“If you are not operating your business in a safe and proper manner and you are creating a nuisance for the community and you need a lot of police and other services, you should not be operating in San Jose,” he said. she declared.
After the fatal accident in June, the restaurant remained open, but the owners wiped a sign along Alma Avenue that once bore the restaurant’s name and logo. Today the solid white sign simply reads “Now Open”.
The appeals of this news agency to Agave and its owners went unanswered on Thursday.
San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata said in a press release that he wanted to assure the community that “businesses like this that engage in illegal and criminal activity will be subject to an investigation and an investigation “.
“I am very happy that the city attorney’s office and the police department were able to work together to shut down Agave,” Davis said. “I hope all business owners understand the responsibility they have to their customers and also to the surrounding neighborhoods to run their business responsibly and to be good neighbors.”