The people of Oracle are definite fans of Kristina Olivares and Way of Bean Coffee Club.
Folks turned out in droves in support of Olivares during a public hearing in Florence regarding the local business.
“It’s a wonderful place,” said Quentin Branch. “(Kristina’s) taken an abandoned Circle K and turned it into a community resource.”
Fern Rogers of San Manuel said that the Way of Bean has had “a positive effect on the surrounding community.”
Another community member called it the “crown jewel for the community of Oracle.”
Way of Bean Coffee Club serves as a community gathering place for artists and musicians, yoga classes, chess players, young and old. Patrons must join the club to purchase coffee and food. Memberships are either day passes or lifetime.
“The community needed a hub, it needed a coffee shop,” Olivares said about her unique establishment, located at 335 W. American Ave., Oracle.
The business, though, has come under fire from county officials over permitting.
The Pinal County Board of Supervisors last week voted to enforce a cease-and-desist order issued by the Pinal County Department of Public Health against Way of Bean Coffee Club for failing to obtain a permit to operate a food establishment. They gave Olivarez 90 days to come into compliance before taking further action, action that could include the Pinal County Attorney filing a complaint in Superior Court.
Olivares maintains that her coffee club is a Private Membership Association (PMA) and as such falls outside of governmental control. She said that she does not deal with the public. Her customers are strictly members and “must purchase a membership to be served.” She added that every member signs a release that they know it’s not inspected by the health department.
“Everything is up to code,” Olivares said.
Olivares, according to county officials, has refused to allow the health inspector into her establishment to inspect the premises. She said that she believes if she allows the inspection and interference by the county, it will move her from private to public and will bring even more control by the government.
“Not allowing us to see what you have bothers me,” said District 2 Supervisor Mike Goodman.
Chief Civil Deputy County Attorney, Chris Keller, told the Board of Supervisors that the county has an obligation to protect public safety, health and welfare. He said that there is a difference between not needing to get a permit and still needing to pass an inspection. He suggested that the Supervisors use the 90-day time frame offered to Olivares to examine the Environmental Health Code and how it applies specifically to PMAs.
“You don’t have to drop the hammer,” Keller advised the board. He said that it could easily be brought back for the board’s consideration after the 90 days has passed.
Goodman and District 3 Supervisor Steve Miller urged Olivares to work with the county.
“We can’t move forward if we don’t have cooperation,” Miller said.
Olivares said that she was “willing to explore it.”
A member of the county’s staff was directed by the Board to work with Olivares.
To view the meeting, visit: https://youtu.be/BWUX2Lkiivw