Small businesses say some violations and complaints are unwarranted


ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — As local law enforcement and a state task force continue to enforce compliance with coronavirus restrictions, some business owners say they’re facing violations or complaints that are unwarranted. 

Businesses continue to evolve their practices as they try to survive under difficult circumstances. 

“This whole thing has been a whirlwind,” said Kayla Tote, owner of Crossfit for the People.  

“We closed down for seven weeks because we didn’t know,” said Domenico DeNitto, who owns Fiorello Importing and Luigi’s Deli.  

“Everyone was unsure of the rules, what you could do, what you couldn’t do,” said the owner of Arsenal City Tavern, Dan Farrell. 

Farrell’s Watervliet tavern was cited when an officer saw three people picking up their take-out orders at the bar without masks on. He pleaded not guilty to the violation and has not been fined, but between cleaning supplies, printed menus, and a new tent and tables, he’s down $20,000 since the start of the pandemic. 

“It’s hard to throw up that kind of money in a time that money’s not coming in; it’s tough,” said Farrell. 

He says they have the table spacing and sanitizing protocol down, and it’s now up to personal accountability. 

“I think the real problem with this is training the customers,” said Farrell. 

In Albany, a case of mistaken identity has the owner of Fiorello Importing and Luigi’s Deli defending their practices. 

“I hope people realize that we’re not affiliated with them, and we are taking the proper precautions here,” said DeNitto.

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy says there were a number of complaints about a business with a similar name. 

Another Albany business fielding complaints is Crossfit for the People. Owner Kayla Tote says they all came from a nasty neighbor. 

“He’s been calling the police on us even though we’re not doing anything wrong,” she said. 

She says they’ve been conducting socially distanced outdoor classes that fall within the guidelines.  

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple says he gets up to 20 complaints a day, and most of them are unfounded. These small businesses want customers to know how easily their livelihood can be thrown into jeopardy. 

“When you see things at a glance, it’s not always what it seems,” said Tote.  

Sheriff Craig Apple says if you do plan to call in a complaint, do so immediately instead of waiting until the next day. He says deputies will try to get to it, but that amid a recent rise in crime, a shooting will take precedence over people not wearing masks. 

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