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Fulton Street Coffee in Downtown Fresno has been closed since last week as the owner awaits a plan check from the county. Photo by Edward Smith

published on March 9, 2021 - 11:29 AM
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Updated: This story has been updated to include statements from Fulton Street Coffee ownership.

A plan check has caused what could be up to a 21-day closure of a Downtown Fresno coffee shop as it awaits inspectors. And while owners are waiting for the County Department of Health to allow them to make corrections, they are missing out on what was a near pre-pandemic return to sales and momentum.

Fulton Street Coffee was forced to close last week after what an Instagram post called a minor remodel made to safely serve customers during Covid.

A statement from the Department of Public Health said that they discovered the building did not have hot water during a “routine inspection.” The  remodel done last year had happened without first submitting plans, said Michelle Rivera, spokesperson for the county health department.

Following safety measures issued to deal with the pandemic, owners at Fulton Street Coffee made changes to the coffee house to meet safety guidelines, said Omar Octavio Vargas, co-owner of the coffee shop. Last week, the Fresno County Department of Public Health told Vargas they may have to wait up to 21 days before a plan checker can even inspect their proposal to fix a door they changed into a to-go window and bring hot water to the building. It won’t be until those plans are approved that they can make the changes.

That could be a month before they open.

“I don’t know if we can survive a month,” Vargas said.

Rivera said that these types of closures are temporary and are often resolved the same day.

“All the corrections — we’re ready to make them, but we have to wait for the inspector to approve them,” Vargas said.

The closure comes at a time when momentum was starting to return to the cafe, said Vargas. They are working on a parklet on the street and had brought tables outside. Sales had begun to return to pre-pandemic levels, he said.

What’s been difficult is that Vargas says that they pride themselves on how much they pay their baristas.

“I would venture to say we are one of the highest paying food places in Fresno,” said Vargas.

They have been paying them even during times they’ve been closed.

In response, one of their customers created a CashApp to help support the business. They have also been selling clothing, merchandise as well as bagged coffee to help support them while they wait to reopen.

“The community has been super supportive,” said Vargas. “That’s why we’re in Downtown Fresno. We feel the need for community and the help we get is really appreciated.”

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