Ventura County Drops Lawsuits Against Local Businesses

On March 17, 2021, Ventura County dropped its lawsuit against five local businesses that had defied closure orders by remaining open: Pizza Cookery, Mrs Olson’s Coffee Hut, Colosseum Gym, House of Gains, and Anytime Fitness-Westlake. At the center of the businesses who chose to fight back is an organization called “BRAVE,” an acronym standing for “Businesses Representing American Values & Enterprises.” Matt Brimigion, the president of BRAVE, says it started at a table in his business, Mrs Olson’s Coffee Hut, with three other people who felt the need to push…

High-end Restaurant Tangles with Westlake City Council

Tina Forti, co-owner of Novo restaurant with her husband Massimo, broke into tears as she spoke with the Westlake City Council recently. “You all keep saying we made a choice [to defy the council]. It was not a choice,” she said. “We signed to sell our house today… we have two kids.” Tina was referring to comments made on February 24 when City Councilman Ray Pearl said, “We are here because of a choice Novo made, not because of a choice we made. If they adhered to the orders, we…

Local Wedding Venue Reaches Breaking Point Due To Lockdowns

County and State anti-business mandates continue to drive local businesses to the brink of extinction. Soroor Campbell, owner of The Vineyards, a wedding and event venue in Simi Valley, says she has had to cancel $1.7 million in reservations and counting, including $600,000 in prom business alone. “I’m on the verge of losing everything,” says Campbell. “What I don’t understand is how the County can provide instructions for other businesses to open, but not us. We have the room to socially distance; we have acres of space outdoors; we can…

Businesses Defend Themselves from County Lawsuit

On January 26, the Ventura County District Attorney’s office took The Pizza Cookery, Mrs Olson’s Coffee Hut, and Colosseum Bootcamp Gym to court for an administrative hearing to get a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against them to close their businesses. Ronda Baldwin-Kennedy is representing the businesses. Based on Fifth Amendment violations, Kennedy filed notices in the state court to remove these cases to the federal court.  The Ventura County Board of Supervisors was contacted for comment. Conejo Guardian received a response from County Counsel, Michael Walker, who stated:  “In all…

Massimo of Novo Café Defends His Right to Remain Open

The owner of Novo, Massimo Forti, was born in Florence, Italy. He played soccer and traveled internationally through his youth, also playing tournaments in the US. He immigrated to America in 1996 and became a fitness trainer, and he became fully naturalized in 2010. In 2011, he began phasing away from being a personal trainer and began scouting restaurant locations, opening Novo-Burbank in 2013 and Novo-Westlake Village in May 2019.  After keeping the restaurant closed for ten months, Massimo decided to reopen his Westlake restaurant and, in doing so, posted…