Would-be restaurateurs sue Berkeley Health Department over permit denial

By John O'Brien | May 23, 2013

MARTINSBURG – Two Berkeley County women are upset that officials will not grant them a second temporary food permit that would allow them to continue their food stand Toothpickin’.

Patricia and Hope Jaeger filed a lawsuit May 17 in Berkeley Circuit Court against the Berkeley County Health Department, alleging it has no right to deny them a second two-week temporary food permit as they save money to open a restaurant.

The lawsuit alleges they have been told a temporary food permit shall not be granted twice at the same address and are challenging that decision. They are representing themselves.

The Jaegers say they sought to open a commercial food establishment but lacked the funds to purchase equipment or rent a facility, so they discussed options with the Health Department.

On the Health Department’s suggestion, the Jaegers began with a two-week temporary food permit for an establishment on Route 11.

“A long list of regulations was met, the inspection took place and the permit was granted,” the complaint says.

“We sold $1,600 worth of food in two very strenuous weeks and made a lot of people happy. Everyone who stopped thanked us emphatically for ‘being here.’”

Toothpickin’ was on a busy highway in an isolated location not surrounded by other retail, they say. After investing more time and money for a second two-week period, the Jaegers were turned down for another permit.

They say they were humiliated telling potential customers they were shut down by the Health Department. They seek $20,000 in damages and a series on temporary permits to be issued until they have enough money for a permanent facility.

“We only want a fair chance at making something useful and profitable from our property on busy Route 11,” the complaint says.

The case has been assigned to Judge Gray Silver III.

Berkeley Circuit Court case number 13-c-381.

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