GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — A township cafe was shut down Friday and its owners cited for operating without a mercantile license after police officers saw several animals running inside the kitchen and prep area, police said.

Police officers had been called to AJ’s Cafe on the Lake, 195 S. Old New York Road, in the Oceanville section of the township at 12:08 p.m. for an unrelated incident, police said.

While there, officers saw “numerous” animals, including three exotic birds and a cat.

Police found the restaurant was operating without a township mercantile license. The restaurant was made to close, and staff and customers were sent home.

The county health department was contacted.

The animals were gathered and kept safely while township code officials and county health inspectors closed the cafe, which was deemed unsanitary and unsafe, police said.

Police Chief Donna Higbee investigated the incident.

— Press staff reports

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the cafe was in Smithville. AJ's Cafe is located in the Oceanville section of the township.

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