10 Weeks: Bumping and Grinding Not Part of Latino Culture, Commissioners Say

The City’s Licensing
Commission might want to consider making its public hearings adults’ only
affairs.

At its Thursday, May 2,
meeting, the commission handed down a 10-week liquor license suspension to
Latinos Falcons at 185 Broadway after police showed a video from the bar
featuring an assortment of groping, grabbing, grinding and all-around Dirty
Dancing among waitresses, staff, and patrons.

The Falcon was called before
the commission for a public hearing after a patron was placed into protective
custody for public intoxication after drinking at the bar.

Before video from the bar
was screened, the attorney representing Latinos Falcons, asked that the
commission members keep in mind that some of the displays of affection captured
on screen were merely representative of the restaurant’s predominantly “Latino
culture.” The attorney also noted that there has recently been training at the
bar for staff to help prevent future incidents.

As the video, featuring a
fair share of bumping and grinding, came to an end with a shot of a security
guard at Latinos Falcons sniffing a waitresses hair, commission member Gladys
Vega was having none of the attorney’s justification.

“This has nothing to do
with Latino culture,” said Vega, visibly incensed and angered despite battling
laryngitis. “You should be ashamed. That is so disrespectful to say what you do
about my culture.”

While the video evidence
was from only one night at Latinos Falcons, and City Solicitor Cheryl Watson
Fisher stated that the bar has not been formally cited before, City
Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda said the behavior shown was nothing new.

“I’ve been told about
these allegations for a while now, and in 2014 and 2015 I witnessed them
myself, this is nothing new,” said Avellaneda. “Unfortunately, this (behavior)
is prevalent in a few bars in Chelsea and we’ve heard complaints from former
waitresses, especially at this place.”

The councillor urged the
Licensing Commission to send a message to Latinos Falcons and other
establishments that exhibit similar behavior in the city with a heavy
punishment.

“This was only one night,
you can imagine what else happens,” said Avellaneda. He noted that patrons,
waitresses, and owners were all engaging in unseemly behavior at Latinos
Falcons.

City Council President
Damali Vidot said she initially showed up at last week’s public hearing to
support local business.

“But if this is the way
you do business, I have a huge problem with the way you treat women and them
being objectified in this video,” said Vidot. “This video is very disturbing.”

Kimberly Martinez, who
said she is a Salem State University student who has worked at Latinos Falcons
for six months, countered that she has never been encouraged to act in any
sexual manner or to flirt with customers as a way to increase the bill. She
said many of the problems at the bar are caused by certain clientele.

“We are trying to filter
that as best we can,” she said. “I feel like we are moving forward and things
are changing.”

But for the commission
members, it wasn’t enough to sway them.

Commission member James
Guido noted that on top of everything else, the waitresses were seen drinking
with customers and called for harsh punishment.

“For me, this is so
disturbing and troubling,” said Commission Chair Mark Rossi. “How anyone could
allow that in their establishment, with the owner taking part, is so out of
line … How can that environment be conducive to reporting sexual harassment?”

Rossi, who sometimes acts
to tamp down harsher penalties proposed by other commission members, wasn’t
averse to going all the way to the most extreme punishment for Latinos Falcons.

“I will shut you down
right now, this is so repugnant,” he said.

Guido initially proposed
a 30-day license suspension for the bar, but it failed to pass. The lengthier
10-week suspension passed unanimously, along with a rollback of the bar’s hours
from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. to 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

•In other business, the
commission continued a public hearing on a change in manager for Los Agaves at
950 Broadway. There are currently legal proceedings in probate court over the
ownership of the restaurant.

Licensing Commissioners
are asking that all the current owners work together to find a new manager
acceptable to all sides in the fight as the legal case makes its way through
the court system.

•The commission also adopted revised licensing rules and regulations. The
revised regulations place stricter requirements on security staff at bars and
restaurants, requiring that security wear clearly marked red shirts, have
city-issued identification, and not carry anything that could be used as a
weapon.

Excerpt from – 

10 Weeks: Bumping and Grinding Not Part of Latino Culture, Commissioners Say

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