Board Defers Restaurant’s Karaoke Request, Citing Crime Concerns

by Katie Pyzyk November 20, 2012 at 11:45 am 12,146 61 Comments

The Arlington County Board has deferred a restaurant’s request to host karaoke several nights a week due to crime concerns.

Restaurante El Salvador (4805 Columbia Pike) had asked for a live entertainment permit, but at its Saturday meeting the Board voted unanimously to defer the request six months until its May 2013 meeting.

The local civic association, the Barcroft School and Civic League (BSCL), opposed the granting of the permit, which would allow karaoke until 2:00 a.m. on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday nights.

According the BSCL and county staff, there have been recent complaints about “alcohol related incidents and violations” that prompted police to respond to the restaurant. Neighbors worry that allowing the live entertainment permit would increase the instances of public drunkenness and rowdiness.

“BSCL concurs with the Arlington County Police Department that such an addition would exacerbate the crime problems the neighborhood is currently experiencing at and around this establishment,” said BSCL President Pat Williamson.

County staff recommended deferring the issue for six moths in order for Restaurante El Salvador to foster a better relationship with the community. Restaurant representatives, county staff and members of BSCL are supposed to meet within the next few weeks to address issues such as hiring security and enforcing drink limits for patrons.

“Staff will work with the applicant to foster a better relationship with the community and with other County agencies,” said the staff report. “The applicant is aware of the reasons staff is recommending deferral, and staff will be working with the applicant, the Arlington County Police Department, and the community over the next few months to address the issues that have been identified.”

Photo via Google Maps

  • What a joke. A bar should not need a permit to have karaoke.

    • Ed

      And trying to obtain such a permit should not be the trigger to finally start addressing ongoing community crime issues. Arlington is so backwards about such simple things that true world class cities handle with ease.

      • YTK


      • Josh S

        Please elaborate.

        • KalashniKEV

          In the rest of America, the policy is “Do what you want, when you step out of line we’ll be there to make the collar”

          In Arlington, the policy is , “What if we let people just do what they want??? Someone might do something I don’t agree with…”

          • Ben

            They frown upon too much liberty for the masses.

  • Ralph T.

    Dollar store, laundromat, karaoke bar. Classy place, the Pike.

    • Becoming indifferent

      Because Clarendon is such a classy place on weekends with the army of douchebags out and about.


        Ralph is mad, that some people need to use a laudromat and dollar store to get by. I’ll let the families on The Pike know that you think it’s too low class, Ralph. I’m sure they will give a sh*t about your opinion,Ralph. I think Ralph might be the Grand Wizard of Clarendon. Right, Ralph.

        • KalashniKEV

          Whoa there, Paul…

          He just made an astute observation.

          A reasonable person would be prudent to avoid such a place… but me, I’m looking forward to downing a few beers, peeing in the washer, and picking out a cool set of shades and maybe a hat for my next set…

  • CW

    We’re concerned about drunkenness, so let’s prevent them from having anything for their patrons to do other than drink. Right.

    • Haha! Great point. Didn’t even think about that.

    • Juanita de Talmas

      I don’t think anyone does karaoke sober.

      • CW

        Yeah, but it’s a better outlet for their drunkenness than fighting is.

  • Arlington2

    All the owners need to do is move the restaurant to Clarendon.

    • True dat, where alcohol and debauchery are encouraged.

    • CW

      Seriously though – surprised that ARLnow hasn’t reported (at least not that I’ve seen) on the huge number of entertainment permits for Clarendon that appear to have been approved (at least I think they’re approved – these board meeting reports are incredibly dense).

      • John K

        Yes, but they are entertaining vibrant and diverse Arlingtonians. Some Clarendouches are from Jersey, some are from somewhere else. At Restaurante El Salvador they’re all from El downtheresomewhere.

        However, while alcohol-fueled crime has been a problem at this place in the past (fatal stabbing right after I moved into the neighborhood), there hasn’t been any problem that you can’t find associated with any other watering hole. I don’t care for this place myself and won’t be too sad if it’s gone when I move back, but I say just give’m the permit. I mean hell, it can’t be as bad as Telvis’ was.

  • SouthArlJD

    Hmm, last case I had from that little strip involved a lonely Salvadorean immigrant busted for responding to the blandishments of a couple of fake hookers the cops put out there. Not sure how karaoke is going to exacerbate any problems that place has.

    • Oh The Horror

      ” involved a lonely Salvadorean immigrant busted for responding to the blandishments of a couple of fake hookers”

      But imagine all of that occurring accompanied by off key singing…..oh, the horror….

    • Jack Tors

      Right, lawyer. It was entrapment. Oy Vey. Give it a rest.

  • g

    Stereotyping here, but a place like Freddie’s wouldn’t have this problem now would it. Control yourself people.

  • MrMeow

    So if the bar were Swedish/Finnish would there be concerns about crime from karaoke? Seems the board holds some stereotypes of certain groups.

    • drax

      If the cops have to come to a Swedish place several times, there would be concerns about crime there too.

      • Mary-Austin

        Also, I dare any ARLNOW cultural attaches to step foot in this place after midnight.

        • Jane-Dallas

          I am a WASP and I go there all the time.

          • Mary-Austin

            No you don’t and you’re not cute.

    • B22201

      It’s common knowledge that karaoke is outlawed in the Scandinavian countries. We’re a non-smiling people, and want to keep it that way.

      • nom de guerre

        2012 Karaoke World Championships will be held in Lappeenranta, Finland. From 28th of November to 1st of December.

        • B22201

          Must be a first. . . 😉

          They’re also big into the Air Guitar

          Good job on proving me wrong!

        • YTK

          “2012 Karaoke World Championships will be held in Lappeenranta, Finland. From 28th of November to 1st of December.”
          But it will be SO COOOLD there that you will not be able to hear the participants until Spring Thaw

        • WeiQiang

          First Rule of Finnish Karaoke: don’t talk about Finnish Karaoke

    • CW

      Short answer – crime would not be a problem at such a bar.

      • Malaka

        Karaoke IS a crime

        • Oz

          ^ WIN!

  • MrMeow

    Why does OSullivans have karaoke? If we’re going to use stereotypes to deny permits, shouldn’t the irish be viewed as drunks and terrorists?

    • drax

      Because nobody is using stereotypes to deny permits.

    • Drunk_Irish_Chick

      The doormen at Restaurante El Salvador aren’t nearly as hot as the one’s at O’Sullivans.

  • drax

    The funny part of this story is the idea that karaoke = dangerous.

    • Freddie

      Have to BEEN to Drag Karaoke ??

  • Andy

    I think they heard I was planning on singing there. Now, that would be a crime.

  • Lisa

    Disallowing karaoke is definitely going to solve this area’s crime problems. What a joke.

    • Ed

      That’s the way the county thinks though. Scary.

      • 7-11-bum

        Why blame the county? Its the neighbors who are sick and tired of the crime – the local civic association, the Barcroft School and Civic League. Doesn’t anyone have a right to be sick and tired of violent crime in their neighborhood or is that not politically correct?

        • The Dope of South Arlington

          You said it, not me.


    I love when people talk about crime in S. Arlington, like is South Central L.A, circa 1987. WUT UP FOOL!

    • WeiQiang

      don’t harsh my intonation, brah

  • KalashniKEV


    Salvadorean Karaoke brings crime, but a multistory Bum Mansion is a “service”…

    I literally LOL’d, and may have peed on myself a little bit…

    • 7-11-bum

      The Bum Mansion will keep them out of 7-11. Or not.

    • micturation nation

      you have a bit of an obsession with the making of water don’t you kev?

  • Mary-Austin

    I live in the neighborhood behind this place and have for a long time. This place is the sketchiest place in Arlington that I know of.
    Over the years there have been machete attacks, armed robberies, and stabbings.
    The neighborhood opposition is warranted by the past history of the place and it is not a racial issue. The majority of businesses in the area cater to the Hispanic community and have no problems with 3am violent crime.
    It’s been time for this place to go the way of Hi Cue Billiards for a long time.

    • 7-11-bum

      I understand. None of the people making snarky comments live near places like this…to them its either because the neighborhood doesn’t like “diversity” or the county sucks. Well you have a right to live in your home without this BS going on. The county and the police ARE helpful, especially when citizens work with their local associations to make their neighborhoods safe and enjoyable places to live.


      You just said it’s not a “racial issue” Then you blame the hispanic community for not having a problem with 3am violent crimes. Yeah, I know, Latinos love those 3 am violent crimes! I mean, the can’t wait for 3am. WTF. Don’t worry, your racism will stay safe with us.

      • Mar-Austin


  • South Awwlington

    Hoping the entire shopping center is bought and leveled soon…

  • bobbytiger


  • jim

    i’m glad arlington is finally focused on all those karaoke-singing criminals. absurd. fight the gangs – not karaoke bars.

  • Chief Wiggum

    That’s some good police work boys! Those karaoke singing criminals will not take over the Pike. Upper Class Karaoke will only be allowed, if we see 1 person singing a Los Tigres del Norte song, we are gonna shut it down. Welcome to Arlington.

  • kmrotterdam

    There was/is a request for the restaurant to take over the entire shopping center. I would like for the laundroat, dollar store, phone card store, used gold-buying jewelry pawn shop, and payday / car title joint to be replaced. I live nearby, and there are few shops that I patronize in my own neighborhood. I was hopeful that the neighborhood would improve. There seems to be strong lobby to maintain South Arlington as a marginal slum area.

  • Sim City

    I know it’s entertaining to frame this as an attempt to stop crime by barring karaoke. But stop and think: a business with a bad track record asks for permission to do something additional. Do you reward them by granting permission, or demand that they clean up their act first. It’s a little like raising a kid: your teenage driver gets repeated speeding tickets. Do you reward that behavior by expanding his driving privilieges?

    • 7-11-bum



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