Crema Coffee Shutters Flagship Location in Wake of ADA Suit

San Jose’s beloved Crema Coffee Roasting Company closed the doors to its flagship location at 950 The Alameda last week because the owner, June Tran, claimed she couldn’t afford to make the front staircase accessible to physically disabled customers.

Thus, Jan. 24 marked the end of an era for the coffee shop, a 13-year-old institution in a 100-year-old building taken down by the 30-year-old law.

The closure comes two years after paraplegic horse jockey Armando Rivera sued the joint for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related state statutes.

Armando Rivera. (Photo via Facebook)

On Jan. 8, 2018, according to the lawsuit he filed in federal court, Rivera joined a buddy at Crema, a popular meet-up for (able-bodied) politicos, activists, students, artists and the nearby Billy DeFrank DeFrank LGBTQ Community Center. But the disabled jockey couldn’t even make it up to the outside patio.

“The only route contained steps, which he could not wheel up,” the lawsuit states. “He had to wait outside of the facility while his friend went inside and purchased coffee for him, which was frustrating.”

Rivera, who declined to discuss the case, has relied on a wheelchair to get around since 1979, when he fell off a horse and suffered a catastrophic spinal cord injury that rendered him unable to ride or walk ever again.

Crema proprietors said upgrading the entrance to the facility with a ramp would cost at least six figures and that paying $60,000 to settle the claim wouldn’t protect them from future litigation.

So, they opted to shutter the place—one of three Crema locations—instead.

Rivera referred questions to his lawyer, Tanya Moore, who’s notorious for bombarding thousands of small businesses with ADA lawsuits. Last fall, she reached a settlement in a federal case that accused her law firm of racketeering by shaking down mom-and-pop shops through canned lawsuits.

Moore, who didn’t get back to Fly by press time, has been blamed for putting scores of small companies out of business, including the Omelette House in Mountain View, Jason’s Café in Menlo Park and Time Deli in San Jose’s Midtown.

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9 Comments

  1. Someone should go check Tanya Moore’s office and see what she can be sued for. I’m sick of the harm these people do.

  2. The law should be changed to accommodate thriving businesses. Give them time and grants for the improvements. The grant could come from any fines or fess levied.
    On our business license renewals there is a fee for ADA compliance. Where does that money go? The state should enforce the regulations not Plaintiffs’ lawyers.

  3. June Tran opened a business in a building with a bunch of steps, over a decade after the ADA was passed. Even if the real estate agent told her it would be grandfathered in, it was obvious she was excluding people in wheelchairs, people with walkers, and people with other mobility issues that prevent them from climbing five steps.

    Just because she hasn’t been sued, doesn’t mean nobody has been excluded who wanted to enjoy the ambiance, community, and networking opportunities at this coffeehouse. (I heard she settled two smaller claims.) If the people who will miss it wouldn’t be satisfied with being handed a cup of takeout coffee to drink on the sidewalk, why should the disabled community? Most disabled people don’t take the time to sue. They just shake their heads and find someplace accessible.

    If her real estate agent lied about the property and said it would be cheap and easy to put in a ramp, shame on him. (Although $100,000 to install a ramp sounds fishy to me.)

    • $100,000 sounds fishy until you get tagged for other regulation by inspectors, license fee’s about 25% of the cost and the other things required by the city. Do you signs comply, does your bath room comply, what about the rat turds we see in back by the trash can. Once you start with these people it never stops. If I build a ramp then it needs a covered so its not slippery, and back to the permit department you go.

  4. It is impossible to make the required improvements and be able to sell coffee and pastry at a reasonable price. Just like Clean Water Act. ADA is well intentioned but there are shister lawyers out there that shake down businesses and cities.

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