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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On Nov. 3 at 1:10 p.m., a victim of a Hit and Run flagged down a CPD officer on a detail. The victim reported that he had been struck by the vehicle, which fled the scene located at 280 Second St. The suspect’s vehicle was located and the detail officer attempted to stop the vehicle with verbal commands from the roadway. The officer was forced to jump out of the way to avoid being struck as the operator continued to flee the scene at a high rate of speed. The operator was later stopped by other CPD units and the operator was placed into custody
Marcio Mezabaca, 32, of 220 Broadway, was charged with operating under the influence of liquor, leaving the scene of property damage, failing to stop for police, assault to murder and resisting arrest.
STOLE CELL PHONE
On Nov. 5, at noon, a female known to a CPD officer on patrol was observed in the company of a male in the area of Cherry Street and Everett Avenue. The officer observed from a distance the known female pushing the victim, and then grabbing his cellphone. Once she observed the officer, she fled the area. She was located a short distance away and placed into custody.
Meghan Mastrangelo, 36, of Revere, was charged with unarmed robbery.
ROBBED WITH BALL BAT
On Oct. 26 at 5:59 p.m., an armed robbery was reported at the Corner Market, located at 803 Broadway. The victim clerk stated that an unknown male party wearing a ski mask entered the store, struck him with a wooden bat style object, and then made away with money, an unknown amount of $30 lottery tickets and cigarettes.
The victim was treated on scene by EMS for an abrasion sustained on his left arm. The suspect was described as a black male approximately 45-47 years old, 5’8” tall, wearing a black ski mask, black jacket, blue jeans, black shoes, and gloves.
Please contact CPD Detectives if you have information to report.
PROBLEM OUTSIDE RESTAURANT
On Nov. 1, at 6:19 p.m., a disturbance was reported outside Chung Wah Restaurant, located at 460 Broadway. Officers observed a female who appeared to be intoxicated displaying boisterous behavior and disturbing the flow of pedestrian and traffic. After further investigation, she was placed into custody for being disorderly
Alisha Cohen, 38, of 36 Winthrop Rd., was charged with being disorderly and possession of an alcoholic beverage.
On Oct. 29 at 10:32 a.m., a male subject was placed into custody after he had been observed breaking a window on the old Salvation Army Donation Center, located at 456 Broadway. The officer observed the male subject punch the window as a result of an apparent argument between him and an unknown female party. He was placed into custody for malicious destruction of property.
Andrew Babigumira, 31, homeless, was charged with wanton destruction.
STABBED FOR DEALING DRUGS
On Oct. 29, at 5:05 p.m., officers responded to a reported stabbing at 744 Broadway #2. A victim was located inside the apartment with minor lacerations to the hand. The victim stated that a dispute arose with his roommate over him dealing narcotics out of their apartment.
The suspect was found by CPD offices and placed under arrest.
On July 16, a Chelsea Police officer was dispatched to Chelsea Police Headquarters for a report of a past assault. The officer spoke with the reporting party/victim. According to victim, he was in the area of Clark Avenue and Eleanor Street when he was approached by a male known to him. He stated the suspect who he knows grabbed a metal object and began to assault him striking him in the left chest area and left upper arm.
The suspect was later apprehended and placed into custody.
Vidal Flores, 49, of 248 Parkway, was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and malicious damage to a motor vehicle.
ASSAULTED PREGNANT WOMAN
On July 19, a CPD officer was flagged down by a pregnant female party who was stating that she had just been assaulted by a male and his girlfriend. The victim pointed out a male and a female, who were known to the officer.
The victim identified the two stating, “They jumped me.” The female was placed into custody and the male was summonsed into court for the assault.
The victim was reportedly eight months pregnant.
Diane Valentin, 27, of 10 Forsyth St., was charged with aggravated assault and battery on a pregnant person.
On July 18, a CPD officer was approached by a male party who stated that he was going to his backyard where a group of males were congregating. The men were drinking beers in the rear of a Shurtleff Street address and began to bother he and his young daughter. The male escorted the officer to the area, and upon coming into the driveway, the officer observed a male party well known to him who had his pants down and was about to start urinating in the driveway.
The officer placed the subject under arrest for trespassing. A warrant check revealed the subject was wanted by Immigration and Customs officials.
Rudis Garcia, 45, of Lynn, was charged with trespassing and an immigration detainer.
ROBBED ON BROADWAY
On July 23, officers responded to Washington Avenue at Cherry Street to assist a State Trooper who was detaining two male parties. Upon arriving on scene the Trooper stated a witness flagged him down and told him their friend was robbed and assaulted by two unknown male parties in front of Chung Wah Restaurant in Bellingham Square.
The Trooper was able to locate those two parties on the corner of Washington Avenue and Cherry Street.
CPD officers furthered the investigation and placed the two under arrest for unarmed robbery and assault and battery.
A warrant check revealed one of the subjects was wanted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
Alberto Hurtado, 43, of 18 Tudor St., was charged with unarmed robbery and an immigration detainer.
Raul Romero, 33, of 4 Webster Ct., was charged with unarmed robbery.
ATTACKED WITH A CHAIR
On July 21, officers responded to a disturbance involving two parties actively fighting at 12 Hawthorne St. Upon arrival, officers separated the parties and spoke with witnesses. One of the persons involved had an arrest warrant and was placed into custody. Additionally, it was learned that he attacked two individuals with a chair.
Jorge Ruiz, 49, of Lynn, was charged with possession of a Class A drug, one warrant and two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon.
BUSTED FOR CRACK
On July 20, members the CPD drug and vice unit placed two individuals into custody after they were observed conducting a drug transaction of crack cocaine in the area 78 Watts St.
Andrew Babigumira, 31, homeless, was charged with distribution of a Class B drug (crack) and conspiracy.
Cesar Gomez, 32, of East Boston, was charged with possession of a Class B drug (crack) and conspiracy.
A new BBQ restaurant and catering business, now based in Peabody, is looking to relocate on the corner of Eastern and Crescent Avenues in a tag-team proposal with the property owner, Titan Street Sweeping.
Big Pig BBQ is looking to renovate the building on the front of the site into a catering kitchen and a retail “deli-style” BBQ restaurant.
“Big Pig BBQ sees this as an ideal location to access its catering clients as well as bring some delicious ‘Q to Chelsea,” read the filing at City Hall. “The retail concept for 300 Eastern Avenue is a BBQ market and deli, a twist on Boston’s many typical Italian markets and delis. This is a place where the customer can sit and have a casual counter service hot BBQ meal, as well as purchase prepared take-home meals and packaged BBQ specialty items.”
The bulk of the business, however, would be in the operation’s catering company. Founded in 2008 by several friends, the company has developed a dedicated catering customer base and indicated it does about 250 events per year.
The plan is to use the entire 3,000 sq. ft. building for the BBQ. Some 1,500 would be dedicated to the commercial kitchen, while 1,000 sq. ft. would be dedicated to the retail store and 500 sq. ft. to office uses.
Meanwhile, Titan Sweeping proposes a second phase of the project in which they would remove all of the street sweeping materials and debris, which now infamously litter the very visible site.
Those materials and the street sweeping machines would be moved into a new, covered building on the back of the site.
“The second phase would stop all the dumping, sorting, separating and transporting sweeping materials,” read the filing. “It would also remove all the cement blocks from the property.”
The matter has been recommended positively by the Planning Board and will have a hearing at the Zoning Board on May 12.
A rendering of the restaurant that will be known as Big Pig Restaurant and Catering on Eastern Avenue.
City Councilor Matt Frank said he believes the project is potentially an easy sell to the neighborhood.
“I don’t think anyone would have looked at that site and thought – BBQ,” he said. “However, it fits their needs and provides an amenity to the neighborhood that’s within walking distance…At least from a planning point of view, I think it is a smart use because it is certainly better than what was there before…From a planning point of view, it seems smart to me.”