NJ bagel shop fined thousands of dollars over window treatment
⚫ Bagels by Jarett opened before the pandemic and offered curbside service only
⚫ Owner covered the windows since no customers come inside
⚫ West Orange fined Jarret $1,000, which he appealed and lost
WEST ORANGE – A judge ruled against a bagel shop owner who has defied a city ordinance prohibiting window shades in the window.
Jarrett Seltzer opened Bagels By Jarrett in West Orange just three weeks before COVID-19 restrictions were implemented by Gov. Phil Murphy that prohibited dining inside restaurants. Seltzer offered curbside service so customers would not have to come inside and covered the eatery's eight windows with shades.
When the restrictions were lifted Seltzer stayed curbside-only and kept the shades down to save on energy costs. The shop also serves pizza, tacos, pasta, wings and sliders depending on the time of day.
That's where Seltzer's problems began.
The township informed him there are two codes about keeping windows covered and "opaque to the public view." The other requires no more than a third of the square footage of any single window be devoted to signs. Seltzer said the previous owner of the space kept the shades drawn as well without any complaint from the township.
Seltzer's lawyer argued the ordinance applies to covering hung outside a restaurant, not inside where his are hung.
A $1,250 a day fine was levied by the Zoning Department, which Seltzer appealed.
The Municipal Court in West Orange Tuesday ruled in favor of the township and ordered Seltzer to pay a $4,566 penalty after the judge reduced the fine to $50 per day.
“We respect the court’s determination after hearing and carefully considering the evidence and testimony. The Municipal Court is an independent branch of local government. The Township’s priority has always been to work with all local businesses to help ensure their success," Mayor Susan McCartney said in a statement.
Seltzer told ABC 7 Eyewitness News he was not surprised by the ruling and does not think the trial was fair. He will appeal the decision in Essex County Superior Court.
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