A Municipal Court jury Friday acquitted the owner of a Santa Ana coffeehouse on a misdemeanor count that he demanded a cover charge without having the proper city permit.
Dennis Lluy, the owner of Koo's Arts Cafe on Main Street, had argued that customers were requested to leave a $5 voluntary donation to cover cafe expenses, not pay a mandatory entrance fee.
Lluy welcomed Friday's verdict but said the city still needs to offer a low-cost permit allowing cover charges for businesses such as Koo's that offer live entertainment but serve no alcohol. Such venues should be treated differently from traditional bars and nightclubs, said Lluy, who plans to address the City Council on the issue.
Assistant City Atty. Gary Sheatz said he was disappointed with the verdict but would file similar charges against Koo's again if given the same evidence.