Licensing Commission Disciplines Several Establishments

If one is looking to hit the local bars this
Cinco de Mayo, the options are going to be a little more limited than usual.

At its March 7 meeting, the Licensing
Commission disciplined two local restaurants for a variety of infractions that
will result in them losing their liquor licenses for the Cinco de Mayo weekend
on May 4 and 5. (The restaurant Cinco de Mayo in Chelsea was not disciplined or
called to the Commission).

In addition to losing its liquor license for
that weekend, the Commission voted to roll back Acapulco’s hours of operation
indefinitely, forcing the Fifth Street establishment to close at 11 p.m.
instead of 1 a.m.

The Acapulco punishment stems from an
incident last November when a security worker at the restaurant struck a
customer over the head with a police baton.

The Commission also enforced an hours rollback
from 1 a.m. to 11 p.m. – along with the weekend suspension – for Bar La Cueva
at 802 Broadway. That punishment was enforced for an incident where several
patrons were overserved, as well as for past concerns about noise and unruly
patrons at the bar.

In addition, Commission member James Guido
requested a hearing next month to consider revoking Bar La Cueva’s
entertainment licenses.

The attorney for Acapulco said the issue at
his client’s establishment is systemic of a larger issue in the city, where
security at bars is handled by companies that act almost as paramilitary or law
enforcement agencies.

Several commissioners agreed that there is a
larger issue that needs to be addressed in the city with bar and liquor
establishment security, but noted that Acapulco deserved a more forceful
discipline than simply firing its current security contractor.

“You say security is a problem, but you’ve
had the same company for a decade,” Commissioner Roseann Bongiovanni said.

The issues at Bar La Cueva seemed to extend
beyond the recent incident where two people were overserved, as several
commissioners noted that there have been noise and unruly patron complaints at
the bar for years.

In a letter, one neighbor stated that the
“karaoke singing by drunks is terribly loud and they overserve their patrons.”

John Dodge, the attorney representing the
bar, said for the incident in question, his clients acted responsibly and asked
the patrons who appeared to be intoxicated to leave.

But Bongiovanni noted that the bar has been
a problem in the past, including racking up a 14-day liquor license suspension
about two years ago.

“They have been a complete nuisance and
annoyance to the neighborhood; you can roll your eyes all you want, counselor,”
she said to Dodge.

Both the bars got off relatively easy
compared to Fine Mart, a liquor and convenience store at 260 Broadway. The
Commission suspended the store’s liquor license for a total of six weeks for
three offenses, including an incident where an employee struck a woman who was
intoxicated in the store, for selling nips after the enactment of the City’s
nip ban, and for the sale of alcohol to a minor.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino, an ardent
supporter of the City’s ban on 50 ml bottles of alcohol, said there needs to be
consequences for businesses that violate the ordinance.

“The ban has been
important in the city’s efforts to try to make Broadway a more attractive place
to shop and dine,” Ambrosino said. “We’ve spent a lot of money to make it a
better place. Having the nip ban in place is an important part of that. “(Fine
Mart) has a prominent place in the corridor and has to comply with its


Licensing Commission Disciplines Several Establishments

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