An Oct. 10, 2013 photo of the Cafe Al Dente,...

An Oct. 10, 2013 photo of the Cafe Al Dente, which has been shut by the Town of Oyster Bay after 20 years of operation. The town is citing multiple building code violations. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The owner of an Oyster Bay hamlet restaurant padlocked by the town for health- and building-code violations says he has gone out of business and has filed notice to sue the town.

Town of Oyster Bay building inspectors on Sept. 16 shut Cafe Al Dente, an Italian-American restaurant that had operated for two decades across the street from town hall, saying owner-chef Phil Morizio failed to resolve violations for 18 months.

Morizio said he was harassed by the town despite making changes demanded by its building inspectors and the county fire marshal's office.

Last week, Morizio said, "Cafe Al Dente of Oyster Bay Inc. is now officially out of business due to the illegal closure by the Town of Oyster Bay."

His lawyer, John Palmer of Mineola, filed a notice of claim against the town and building department employees. The notice is a legal requirement in advance of filing a lawsuit against a municipality.

"The town attorney is reviewing it," town spokeswoman Marta Kane said.

In the notice, Palmer said his client is seeking to recover damages from a shutdown done "without due process of law."

It calls the town's action "arbitrary, oppressive and confiscatory, and not reasonably suited to the ends to be accomplished." And it states that the town "failed to properly train and supervise its subordinates."

Building inspectors padlocked the 36-seat restaurant at 2 Spring St. on the same day Morizio went to court to answer the town's latest summonses. While waiting for his next court date this week, the Northport resident laid off 14 employees. Morizio said he paid rent, insurance and other costs until last week.

The owner earlier this year pleaded guilty to a charge of not having a public assembly license, and other charges were dropped with no fine assessed.

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