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.

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Pupusa Fiesta

Julio Flores of El Santaneco Restaurant held baby Leonel, who was dressed in a “Got Pupusas?” shirt for just for the occasion at Sunday’s Pupusa Fiesta. The City’s Chelsea Prospers initiative sponsored the event, along with several local restaurants, to celebrate the pupusa and its ties to Chelsea’s Latino community. The Fiesta was an overwhelming success with lines around the block.

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License Commission Approves License for Carnival at Chelsea Commons

The carnival is coming to Chelsea.

On Wednesday, April 3, the Licensing Commission approved a four-day license for New Hampshire-based Fiesta Shows to hold a four-day carnival on the Chelsea Commons this spring.

During the short public hearing to approve the license, Chelsea Police Captain Keith Houghton said the City’s public safety agencies have never had an issue with Fiesta Shows. The company also runs events nearby in Revere and Lynn, among other communities.

At-Large City Councillor Roy Avellaneda said he’s had experience with Fiesta Shows owner John Flynn in the past, and that Flynn has always run a tight and secure ship with his shows. In addition, Avellaneda noted that Fiesta Shows will make a donation to the City’s summer jobs program.

Licensing Commissioner Roseann Bongiovanni said she did have some concerns about the carnival operating until 11 p.m., especially on Thursday night.

Flynn said while the license has the closing time at 11 p.m., festivities and rides typically wind down around 10 p.m., giving police time to sweep the area by 11 p.m. Music and amplification is usually shut down at 9 p.m., he added.

•In other business, the Commission denied a permit that would have allowed for Friday night social events at the Rincon Hondureno Function Hall at 194 Broadway. Commission members and City officials expressed concern that the social night would effectively turn the function hall into a nightclub.

•The Licensing Commission also approved a liquor license transfer for La Esquina Mariachi Restaurant at 170 Washington Ave., the former site of the Plaza Mexico restaurant.

The pastor and parishioners from the neighboring church expressed concerns about the new restaurant, given their experience in the past.

While the Commission approved the license, members asked that the owners are mindful of the past history at 170 Washington Ave.

“You need to be very conscious of the environment you are stepping into,” said Licensing Commission Chair Mark Rossi. “Please don’t disappoint us.”

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Pupusa Fiesta to Come to Chelsea on April 7

Pupusa Fiesta to Come to Chelsea on April 7

The pupusa is a curious delicacy – part tortilla, part cheese – and full of ‘yum.’

In Chelsea, it is an art form and nearly a dozen restaurants in the city have their own brand and take on the pupusa, and this spring, the Chelsea Prospers initiative will hold a community party dedicated for the art of the pupusa.

Come hungry.

Mimi Graney and Edwardo Chacon unveiled the idea on Feb. 6 during a meeting of the Chelsea Prospers committee, and said it will be the opening salvo in a season that will include the recently-announced Chelsea Night Market.

“We have been reaching out to all the local restaurants, and we have seven on board so far,” said Chacon. “A lot were surprised at first. They were very surprised the City was doing this. The reaction was pretty positive though and we will have a lot of participation.”

The idea will be to bring together the best pupusa makers in the city to vie for the 2019 Pupusa Champion of Chelsea. The event will take place a Emiliano’s Fiesta and will be an inside event.

There will be judges and audience voting on who makes the best pupusa, and the City would take hints from El Santaneco Restaurant, which has a pupusa-eating contest every November.

There would also be awards for the best salsa and the most creative vendor display at the event.

Graney said they would also have a booth dedicated to the history and the culture of the pupusa, and the center of the room would feature a demonstration on how to make homemade pupusas.

An idea has been floated out to have the Police Department and Fire Department engage in a pupusa-eating contest at the fiesta, but that is still up in the air.

“The idea is to bring the community around this special food item, whether it’s a contest or an event,” said Chacon. “We want them to come out with their family and enjoy their city.”

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Liquor License Suspension Handed to Rincons Latinos

Liquor License Suspension Handed to Rincons Latinos

Rincons Latinos Restaurant on Washington Avenue has been no stranger to appearing before the Licensing Commission over the past several months.

At the Thursday, Dec. 6 meeting, it was a case of enough was enough for the licensing commissioners, as they voted to suspend the 373 Washington Ave. restaurant’s liquor license for eight days. The suspension, largely leveled for repeated instances of exceeding the posted capacity of the establishment, will be served during four weekends over December and January.

A police inspection in October found 42 people in the restaurant, well above the posted occupancy limit of 17. Police officials also claimed there was missing signage and insufficient lighting in the restaurant.

Attorney John Dodge, representing Orlando Pineda of Rincons Latinos, argued that his client is planning to install a second handicap accessible bathroom in the restaurant. That move would double the occupancy limit of Rincons Latinos from 17 to 34, he said.

“That is the only thing that has been reducing the occupancy level in the restaurant,” said Dodge. “It isn’t a safety concern in regard to (the number of people) in the restaurant.”

“It’s just breaking the law and not following rules,” countered Mark Rossi, the Licensing Commission chairman.

Dodge said Pineda is doing his best to run a business and will spend upwards of $7,500 to install the new bathroom to comply with regulations.

“Mr. Pineda has put his life and soul into the place, and he lives right upstairs,” Dodge said.

Dodge also noted that the police withdrew a previous charge against the restaurant from the fall that people were illegally bringing cases of beer into and out of the restaurant.

“Mr. Pineda and his brother Ricardo are trying to do the right thing,” Dodge said. “They are doing their best to increase the occupancy. I question the fundamental fairness (of the charges).”

Commission member James Guido took exception to Dodge’s accusation of unfairness.

“They have had plenty of chances,” he said. “The biggest complaint now is the occupancy and we are going to try to deal with that.”

Commission member and Inspectional Services Director Mike McAteer said he has been dealing with the occupancy issue and plans for an additional bathroom since July with no movement on the issue from the Pinedas.

Rossi said Dodge was basically taking a “no harm, no foul” approach to the occupancy violations and that the Pinedas have not made enough effort to address them over the past six months.

“The explanation has been, ehhhhh, it’s a big enough place and nobody got hurt,” Rossi said. “They have not taken the proper steps to alleviate the matter. Now, you are saying give me more time so I can try to make this right.”

The commission members batted around several possible punishments, from a 30-day license suspension to outright revocation, before deciding on the eight-day suspension meted out over four weekends.

Rossi said if the establishment violates the 17-person occupancy limit before approval for expanding to 34 people, it will be subject to license revocation proceedings.

In other business, the commission took its annual vote to allow extended New Year’s Eve hours to 2 a.m.

The commission also approved giving a six-month extension to Samir, Inc. to find a new location to use a wine and malt beverage license.

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Planning Bd Recommends Zoning Changes,Approves Parkway Peruvian Restaurant

Planning Bd Recommends Zoning Changes,Approves Parkway Peruvian Restaurant

The Planning Board recommended approval to two changes to the City’s zoning ordinances on Tuesday night.

The first change affects the Naval Hospital Residential and Commercial Districts, also known as the Admiral’s Hill area of the city.

In the 1980s, the city slackened many building and zoning regulations for the district in an effort to encourage development, according to Lad Dell, the city’s planning and land use administrator.

“People were able to develop without much regulation at all,” said Dell.

A moratorium on building in the district was recently extended to the end of the year by City Manager Thomas Ambrosino as the City worked on new regulations for the district.

The new ordinance recommended by the Planning Board for approval by the City Council allows for four- to six-unit buildings to be constructed by right, with a special permit required for any construction above six units.

The ordinance brought before the Planning Board allowed for building heights of 2 ½ stories and 35 feet. The board amended the ordinance to allow for a building height of 40 feet.

“I would suggest that we add the half a story and a little height to allow for garages,” said John DePriest, the City’s planning director.

City Councillor Roy Avellaneda said the amendment was in line with Council subcommittee discussions on the ordinance to increase building height to make it easier to build garages.

The residents who spoke during the public hearing on the zoning amendment were supportive.

“It looks like this is an effort to protect the character of the neighborhood and not overload our streets,” said Christine Shields.

The second zoning amendment would allow for residential units on the first floor of buildings in the Retail Business District by special permit, as long as those units are not on Broadway.

Two years ago, a zoning amendment banned residential units on the first floor in the Broadway corridor. If the new amendment is approved by the City Council, residential units will still be banned on the first floor on Broadway itself, but could be allowed under special permit on other streets near Broadway in the zoning district.

  • In other Planning Board business, the developers of the massive 1 Forbes Street project withdrew their plans for the project.

But rather than a massive blow to development in the City, it was a procedural move that gives developers more time to fully present the project to a full Planning Board, according to Paul Feldman, who is representing the developer for the 630-unit residential and office building project.

“The public hearing on this was opened on Sept. 22, and at that time, there were a couple of vacancies on the board and a member who was not present,” said Feldman. “With a nine member board, to get site approval, we need six votes.”

Feldman said developers are withdrawing the site plan, but immediately refiling it to start the clock over on the hearing process. He said he expects the project to be back before the Planning Board at its Dec. 18 meeting.

“We would like the participation of all nine members, or all that can attend,” said Feldman.

  • Tuesday night, the board also approved a special permit for a 16-seat Peruvian bistro-type restaurant at the site of a former liquor store on 22 Adams St.

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Planning Board Okays McDonald’s Rebuild Project

Planning Board Okays McDonald’s Rebuild Project

The golden arches on Revere Beach Parkway are going to shine a little brighter.

Tuesday night, the Planning Board approved a special permit allowing for the demolition and rebuild of the McDonald’s at 170 Revere Beach Parkway.

The updated fast food restaurant will be larger than the current building and will feature a double drive-through lane, according to project engineer William Lucas. There will also be fewer parking spots and more green space on the property.

“McDonald’s is going through a nationwide rebranding program at all its restaurants,” said Lucas.

In many locations, that means major renovations. But in Chelsea, Lucas said the demolition and rebuild of the restaurant will help improve accessibility inside and outside the restaurant.

“This will bring the restaurant into compliance and improve operations,” he said. “They are implementing a side-by-side drive-through instead of the single file line.”

The current drive-through lane is parallel to Washington Avenue, while the new window will face Revere Beach Parkway. The size of the building itself is slated to increase from 3,500 to 4,400 square feet, and the number of parking spaces will decrease from 65 to 32.

Planning Board Chairman Tuck Willis asked how long the demolition and rebuild will take once work gets underway.

“Generally, it gets done in less than 60 days,” said Lucas.

Board member Todd Taylor said he did have some concerns about the project if the construction affects Washington Avenue.

“The traffic there is such a bad problem,” said Taylor. “That is the main way out of Prattville, and in the mornings, there is a huge backup and people cannot get out of the neighborhood.”

Other than the McDonald’s vote, it was a fairly low-key evening for the Planning Board, as it approved special permits to convert several single-family homes to multi-family units.

The massive, 630-unit Forbes Street project was continued to the board’s Nov. 27 meeting.

The most excitement during the meeting came during a thunderstorm, when several board members were startled during an especially close and loud boomer.

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Hearing Continued for Rincon Latino Restaurant

Hearing Continued for Rincon Latino Restaurant

It’s the case of the cases of Corona going in and out of Rincon Latino Restaurant.

Following a histrionic licensing commission hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 25 that saw the lawyer for the restaurant’s owners compare the proceedings to those in Russia and referred to the hearing to “a lynching,” the commission continued the hearing until its next meeting next month.

As the last hearing on a busy commission agenda, everything started calmly enough, as the commission heard a police report from officer Augustus Cassuci detailing two incidents he witnessed just outside the Washington Avenue Restaurant on June 22 and 23.

The officer stated that on Friday, June 22, he was passing by 373 Washington Avenue when he saw about 10 people crossing the street, with one carrying a case of Corona beer. The next day, Cassuci said he saw a customer carrying a case of Corona into the restaurant.

Where the hearing raised the ire of attorney John Dodge, who was representing the restaurant, was when Cassuci raised a number of issues at Rincon Latino Restaurant that were not included in the two-paragraph police report.

“On several occasions, there have appeared to be intoxicated patrons in front of the laundromat next door blocking the sidewalk,” said the officer. “Male parties have also been seen urinating on the sidewalk.”

Additionally, police Captain Keith Houghton said the restaurant often appears to surpass its occupancy limit of 17 customers and the curtains of the establishment have been closed, in violation of the law.

Police officials also showed the commission a photo taken from the restaurant’s security camera that they said showed the establishment as being over capacity.

“How am I supposed to represent (the restaurant) when all I have is a two-paragraph police report?” asked Dodge, who asked that the hearing be continued to the commission’s next meeting since evidence was introduced that he had not previously seen.

Dodge said the allegations leveled by the police had nothing to do with the original report of customers taking out or bringing in cases of beer.

“I don’t know what evidence is being presented,” he said. “We were not provided with any photos or any video, and Officer Cassuci is now testifying to public intoxication, urinating on the sidewalks, and closed curtains.”

Licensing Commission Chairman James Guido said a public hearing does not follow the same process as a court hearing and that the information being provided during the hearing was due process.

“Maybe due process in Russia, in America we are given the evidence before a hearing,” said Dodge.

Commission member Roseann Bongiovanni asked for calm, and suggested the commission continue the hearing for one month. The commission approved the continuance, as well as a request that the restaurant provide video of peak hours during the past several weekends to help determine if there has been overcrowding or other issues at the restaurant.

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Licensing Board Approves Permits for Function Hall at Old Polish American

Licensing Board Approves Permits for Function Hall at Old Polish American

A new function hall is slated to open at the site of the former Polish American Veterans Hall at 35 Fourth Street.

At its most recent meeting, the licensing commission approved restaurant and entertainment licenses for the proposed hall.

The applicant, Emiliana Fiesta, LLC, also applied for a wine and beer license, but will have to wait until there is an available license in the city. However, one-day liquor licenses can be granted for the weddings, birthday parties, and other functions planned for the facility.

The Polish American hall had a capacity of over 500 occupants for the two floors of the building. But based on concerns voiced by police officials, the licensing commission approved the restaurant license with a capacity of 250 occupants, limiting the functions to one level of the building, while the basement level can only be used for storage and kitchen purposes. The owners will also install licenses at all entrances on both floors of the building.

Even with the limitations on use, police Captain Keith Houghton said he was wary that the use of the building could tip from being a function hall to operating as a full-blown night club.

“This is going to be a challenge,” said Houghton, who also requested that the opaque outside of the building be replaced with clear windows and that a floor plan be provided to police and the licensing committee.

Broadway resident Paul Goodhue said he also had concerns about the proposal.

“I’ve watched the police clean up that corner of Fourth and Broadway,” he said. “You’re going to be opening up a can of worms if that ends up being a nightclub.”

Commission member Roseann Bongiovanni said she understood the concerns of the police and neighbors.

“We do not want this to turn into a nightclub, that’s not an appropriate function,” she said.

But with the proper conditions in place, Bongiovanni said the new owners of the building should have the chance to give the function hall a go.

“They bought (the building) with the same use,” Bongiovanni said. “I feel like we should give them a shot.”

Licensing Commission Chairman James Guido also stipulated that live bands can perform during functions only and that for functions of over 100 people, a police detail should be requested.

The approved hours for the function hall are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays.

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Police Searching for Man Who Allegedly Slashed Waitress Monday

Police Searching for Man Who Allegedly Slashed Waitress Monday

Chelsea Police have identified a man of interest in the case of a female waitress who was slashed in the neck and cut on the hands when she chased the man outside after he dashed on the bill.

Officers responded at 11 p.m. Monday night to 92 Washington Ave. A female victim in her early 30s was working as a waitress in the restaurant Las Pupusas Del Chino.

She told officers a male party skipped out on his bill and she chased him outside. She confronted him as he entered his motor vehicle and he subsequently pulled out a cutting instrument and sliced her in the neck and right hand.

He fled in a red sedan, possibly with a Colorado license plate, down Blossom Street heading west. The victim was transported to MGH Boston and was treated for a non-life threatening injury. No arrest has been made at this time. Detectives currently following up with a strong lead as to the identity of the suspect.

The suspect’s photo has been released and he has been positively identified by the Chelsea Police Department as the suspect in the stabbing.

The Chelsea Police are requesting the public’s assistance in clarifying the suspect’s true identity. Chelsea Detectives are actively searching for the individual for charges of Armed Assault with Intent to Murder.

The victim was released from the hospital Tuesday morning.

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