Chester’s Billiards, Bar & Grill will have three months to remedy various violations after the Arlington County Board voted unanimously to grant a brief extension to its live entertainment permit.
The billiards hall and neighborhood bar at 2620 Shirlington Road had the annual review of its permit at the Board’s recessed meeting Tuesday (July 18), and county staff recommended an extension be denied after a slew of problems.
But the Board agreed to give Chester’s three months before having another review to correct various violations, which included 16 calls for service to the Arlington County Police Department as well as notices from the Fire Marshal, Code and Zoning Enforcement and Virginia ABC.
“I hope we’ve impressed on you all that this is not to be seen as an endorsement of the current state of affairs,” Board vice chair Katie Cristol said. “This is an opportunity to try to get it right.”
Rebecca Lewis, the agent for the building, promised that Chester’s will use the Arlington County Police Department’s after-hours service to employ off-duty officers as security on nights when it has live entertainment, and will ensure bartenders are trained in when to cut people off.
The live entertainment permit allows Chester’s to host “a variety of live entertainment types, including music, comedy and magicians.”
Lewis and Chester’s manager David Breedlove said the introduction of a fence around the property, which is as high as eight feet in some places, should help with security. Lewis added that after some management turmoil since the bar opened in 2015, they have been on a more even footing the past couple of months.
“We can’t change the neighborhood, but what’s happening inside Chester’s has changed,” Lewis said. “We’ve learned the lessons, and we have followed the rules that were laid out in the original use permit.”
Board member Christian Dorsey cautioned against rhetoric that may appear to blame the neighborhood for any problems. He also tried to determine the status of the building’s elevator, which is the subject of criminal proceedings.
“My overarching conversation,” Dorsey said, “is if the elevator makes it inappropriate for us to renew the use permit, should we have a business operating there at all?”
Chester’s representatives said the elevator has not operated since opening, and that they are applying to have it decommissioned. Adam Watson, a planner in the county’s Department of Community, Planning, Housing and Development, said the violation must be remedied, and that staff would work to determine how necessary a working elevator is for the business.
Lewis and Breedlove said many violations have come from being a relatively new business, including from Virginia ABC as their food sales are not as high as required for their liquor license. Both promised to do better.
“This is always really tough,” Dorsey said. “I hate to be in the business of hurting someone’s opportunity to earn a living and fulfill their creative and entrepreneurial dreams, but it also seems by your own admission…this has been a growing experience for you in terms of operating a business, finding out the right things to offer, the right things to work with.”
Chester’s will be back before the Board for its review in October.
Photo via Google Maps.
With a criminal case pending and various code violations, county staff is recommending the Arlington County Board not extend the live entertainment permit for Chester’s Billiards, Bar & Grill.
The billiards hall and neighborhood bar at 2620 S. Shirlington Road in Nauck has the annual review of its permit for live entertainment and dancing at the recessed County Board meeting on Tuesday, July 18.
But staff said the Board should not grant a renewal after a slew of problems this past year, for the bar that opened in 2015. The Arlington County Police Department said they were called 16 times during the past year, including during the bar’s live entertainment hours.
The report said several police calls involved “violent altercations or assaults, including incidents directly involving Chester’s manager and co-owner,” including disputes with employees and an accusation of vandalism on the phone lines of another nearby restaurant.
The Fire Marshal, Code and Zoning Enforcement all issued violation notices, while staff had not received required TIPS training for serving alcohol. The Virginia ABC also has pending charges that could result in Chester’s liquor license being suspended due to inadequate food sales and false figures for alcohol purchases, the report says.
The building’s elevator is under “active criminal investigation” for being unsafe, after a violation notice was first issued last August, according to the report. Since then, staff said it has not been corrected, with their report describing the elevator as “dangerous to the health, safety, and welfare of the building’s occupants.”
The report notes that the president of the Nauck Civic Association said the group had no “issues or concerns” with Chester’s, while the president of the nearby Shirlington Crest Homeowners’ Association did not respond to requests for comment.
The live entertainment permit allows Chester’s to host “a variety of live entertainment types, including music, comedy, and magicians.” The staff report says the elevator issue may also prompt the county’s building maintenance official to “seek revocation of the Certificate of Occupancy for disregard and/or refusal to correct violation.”
Chester’s is located in the building that formerly was home to Lucy’s ARL and Champion Billiards.
Hat tip to Chris Slatt. Photo via Google Maps.
Arlington County has approved a permit for the 2014 Clarendon Halloween Crawl, making it the first such event approved under the county’s new pub crawl guidelines.
The Halloween Crawl is set to take place on Saturday (November 1). It’s the first bar crawl permit issued since the County Board decided in July that bar crawls will be classified as “special events” and require a permit.
“As the County Board has said, our goal is to manage these events in a way that ensures the safety of participants and residents of the surrounding neighborhoods and reimburses the County for crawl-related expenses,” said County Manager Barbara Donnellan in a written statement.
The county manager’s office confirmed that under the new regulations, Halloween Crawl organizer Project DC Events is required to reimburse the county for event-related personnel expenses, such as the need for extra police officers. The event organizers currently anticipate around 3,000 people will participate in the crawl, so the county assigned 30 police officers to the area. More police support will be requested should the number of event attendees increase. The county manager’s office estimates the police presence and potential EMT services will cost around $9,000-$15,000.
The county doesn’t foresee the need for additional trash collection services; instead, it’s moving up Clarendon’s regular Monday pickup to Sunday. Just like with the police estimate, more waste management services can be added if necessary.
It will likely take up to two weeks to calculate the final costs and then send Project DC Events a bill. Per the regulations, special events organizers must reimburse the county within 60 days of the issuance of an invoice.
“This is an Arlington-based company and we are very confident we will not have any issues with them,” said Assistant County Manager Wilfredo Calderon.
Thanks to a reduction in noise complaints, County Manager Barbara Donnellan has recommended the Board approve renewal of A-Town’s permit, with another county staff review in three months and another Board review in six months.
“Residents in the community have stated to staff that the site plan condition, which restrict the permitted hours the outdoor cafe can be in use, has significantly cut down on noise-related disturbances,” the county staff’s board report states. “However, disturbances related to overcrowding and over-serving of alcohol still have a negative impact on adjacent properties.”
County staff specifically mentioned an incident during the World Cup final on the afternoon of July 13, when the restaurant was found to be over capacity by “at least 100 people” and Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control agents “found a truck, parked on the patio, dispensing champagne to the crowd without the proper licenses to do so.”
The County Board last approved the permit’s renewal three months ago, with conditions on limiting the times at which patrons can be on the outdoor patio. The restaurant also planned to install “theater-style curtains” on the patio to reduce noise after the Board’s December use permit review, which saw several residents of the surrounding area complain about the noise the bar was generating. However, A-Town opted to simply close the patio area early instead of putting in the curtains.
A-Town is still waiting for the results of a Virginia ABC Board hearing for a February incident in which, at an employee-only party, police say one man slashed another with a broken beer bottle in the face and neck.
County staff said A-Town gets more police calls than any other “liquor-serving establishment,” with or without live entertainment, in the Ballston area. It also “continues to have issues with compliance with local and state laws and regulations.” The situation has improved since the June decision to close the outdoor café at midnight on Fridays and Saturdays and even earlier during the week, but the County Board could still revoke the live entertainment permit at its meeting this Saturday.
(Updated at 12:10 p.m.) Construction has begun at the new Lacey Lane subdivision at the corner of Washington Blvd and N. George Mason Drive, more than a year-and-a-half after crews first excavated the site in the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood.
Work on the first model home first was expected to begin in March 2013, but didn’t actually happen until a few weeks ago. County employees told ARLnow.com last November that the stall had to do with developer The Barrett Companies fulfilling safety obligations in order to receive permits. County staff confirms the developer met all requirements and obtained a building permit this spring.
According to the Evergreene Homes website, the nine properties will be “exquisitely detailed luxury residences.” Renderings of what the finished homes are expected to look like are also available on the website.
The base models originally were said to feature four bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms, at an estimated cost of $1.4 million each. Although preliminary plans are available for the three-level houses, Evergreene Homes Director of Sales and Marketing Rich Rudnicki said the company currently is finalizing the home options and base pricing. He said the company should be ready to put the properties up for sale by September 1.
Rudnicki says details like detached garages, courtyards and sitting areas will make this a unique subdivision.
“It’s a cool location,” he said, “It’s going to be a different kind of community.”
(Updated) The Arlington County Board revoked the live entertainment permit for Pines of Italy (3111 Columbia Pike) last night, siding with dismayed neighbors over outraged management.
Pines of Italy General Manager Darlene Wilcher calmly presented the case for a permit renewal. After the board’s unanimous vote against the restaurant, a woman can be heard going up to the live microphone in the board room and calling County Board members “c–ksuckers.”
Wilcher, who said she took over as manager in October, had earlier asked to speak again during the Board’s discussion.
“Can I just say one thing?” she asked while Board Chair Jay Fisette was speaking.
“No, I’m sorry, the discussion is with the Board,” Fisette responded, before telling Wilcher, an Arlington native, “I do want to compliment you personally because you appear to be someone with great possibility, you present yourself very well.”
Less than two minutes later, the Board voted and the expletive was hurled before leaving the room.
The decision to revoke the permit came after neighborhood controversy in 2012 over fights outside the restaurant/hookah bar/nightclub and multiple deferrals by the Board to approve a live entertainment permit, which it finally did in March 2013. Restaurant owner Jorge Escobar — who has owned the building and business since it was called Coco’s Casa Mia a decade earlier — and his management group had vowed to reach out to the community and to put a stop to the health and Alcoholic Beverage Control Board violations that had been repeatedly reported.
“That meeting was one of my high points 9 months ago because I felt so good about it,” Board Member Libby Garvey said. “Where we are now, I find myself thinking about the classic abusive relationship. Things are really awful, and then you say ‘oh no I’m going to be better now,’ but look at this list [of violations since March]… We’ve got to stop this.”
Since the permit was approved in March, the Arlington County Police Department has reported six calls for service at the restaurant, including “use of the premise for residential purposes” and serving alcohol when the kitchen was closed. According to county staff, it was the second such occurrence since 2011 of an individual appearing to be living in the space.
Five residents of Arlington Heights, some of whom live down the street from the business, asked the Board to revoke the license, citing broken promises in the past from the management to do things differently.
“It’s been a bane in the neighborhood for many years,” resident Scott Winn said. “We’ve had new management, new agreements, new promises and I think it’s time once and for all that we cut the problem to the quick and that the live entertainment license is revoked.”
Wilcher, in her presentation, said since she has taken over the operations, all the code violations and issues with the use permit agreement have been fixed.
“In those months, we have done better,” she said. “We have fixed all of our violations and have no issues with anyone.”
Escobar wasn’t present yesterday during the meeting. He had previously attended meetings on the issue and, in April 2012, his attorney “promised the board that the three partners of this establishment are interested in starting anew.”
Without music, DJs and dancing — all of which will be prohibited without the permit — the nightlife-oriented business faces long odds of survival.
“The main protagonist of this drama is still the owner of the property,” Fisette said. “This doesn’t happen very often, but time’s up. The words that come back to me are fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on you. But fool me thrice, shame on me, and that’s where we are.”
Update at 12:55 p.m. — The video of Fisette’s comments and the restaurant manager’s outburst can be found below. It’s not safe for work.
County planning staff are recommending the Arlington County Board revoke the live entertainment and dancing license for Pines of Italy (3111 Columbia Pike).
The restaurant/nightclub/hookah bar was approved for the permit in March 2013, but, according to the county staff’s report, its owner never scheduled a meeting with the Arlington Heights Civic Association, which was a requirement of the permit. In addition, the restaurant was allegedly operating with live music on Thursday nights, which was not allowed by the permit.
The permit was scheduled for review in March, but because of the lack of compliance, as well as issues with the police and the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, staff recommended the Board review the license two months early.
“The applicant has demonstrated a lack of compliance with the conditions of approval and other state and county ordinances,” the staff report says. “Operation of live entertainment and dancing at this site will continue to generate issues given the combination of greater numbers of patrons drawn to the business by live entertainment and the applicant’s lack of compliance with use permit conditions and other laws, and lack of communication with the surrounding community.”
Pines of Italy has generated neighborhood controversy since it opened, with neighbors complaining about noise and crime generated by the business.
Before being approved for the live entertainment permit last March, Pines of Italy’s owner had applied for the permit in early 2012. The application was deferred twice — first because of “police and community issues” with the last restaurant in the space and again because Pines of Italy conducted insufficient community outreach — before its ultimate approval.
Arlington County Police Department has reported six calls for service at the restaurant since the use permit was issued, including “use of the premise for residential purposes” and serving alcohol when the kitchen was closed.
The County Board will review the permit during its meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 28.
Bracket Room (1210 N. Garfield Street) in Clarendon had wanted to offer its patrons live music, but an outcry from neighbors prompted a change of plans.
Bracket Room’s owners had applied for a live entertainment permit, but decided within the past couple of weeks to withdraw the application. They made the decision based on noise complaints from neighbors living in Lyon Place apartments — located directly above the sports bar — who say the existing music is too loud.
“We’ve had a lot of issues with the tenants in the building from the beginning,” said Co-owner Jeff Greenberg. “The residents were calling the police when we first opened, which I hear really happens to everybody. But we don’t want to upset the people in the building or the landlord.”
One month after the sports bar’s early September opening, police said they had received around three dozen complaints related to Bracket Room. County Zoning and Code Enforcement staff had also received more than 15 complaints. Last month, County Planner Sophia Fisher said county employees were looking into the issues. Staff members familiar with each permit request typically make a recommendation to the County Board about whether to grant or deny the permit.
“Zoning and Code Enforcement staff are both currently monitoring the use due to concerns raised by citizens related to noise,” Fisher said in October. “Because live entertainment has the potential to increase the impacts of a venue on the surrounding community, citizen concerns related to noise are taken very seriously by staff.”
Today, Fisher confirmed that the Bracket Room owners have withdrawn their application for the live entertainment permit.
Bracket Room customers might notice some changes implemented during the past two weeks to appease neighbors. First, owners decided to lower the music level to 85 decibels.
“They’re trying to keep [the music] as low as they can so people inside are having fun but other people aren’t disturbed by the noise,” said Greenberg. “When the people in the building are mad at you, what are you going to do?”
The owners also examined the sports bar’s closing time and decided to shut the doors earlier.
“The 1:00-2:00 a.m. crowd is usually smaller than at other hours of the day, but it’s rowdier,” Greenberg said. “We’re cutting our hours back and we’re not staying open until 2:00 a.m.”
Since implementing the changes about two weeks ago, the owners have not been notified of as many noise complaints.
Other ideas the owners continue to throw around include adding additional security, working with an architect to find some other form of noise insulation, and possibly turning down the music’s bass if necessary.
“We’re going to contain the noise, but we’re going to try to keep our restaurant full every night,” said Greenberg. “We’re going to try the best we can. We want to get along, we want to be loved.”
Officials See Positives in Voting Rights Act Ruling — Although civil rights activists have expressed disappointment over the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act earlier this week, some local officials see a few benefits in the decision. Election officials no longer need approval from the U.S. Department of Justice on election matters down to the precinct level. That will allow them to make decisions on the fly, such as extending absentee voting or holding a voter registration drive. [Sun Gazette]
State Reissues Arlington’s Municipal Stormwater Permit — The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) reissued Arlington’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit. Arlington is the first municipality in the state to receive an MS4 permit that includes quantitative pollution reduction requirements to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. The new permit is in effect through mid-2018, during which time Arlington is required to decrease its share of the nutrient and sediment reductions by five percent. [Arlington County]
Arlington Company Receives $100 Million from Goldman Sachs — Applied Predictive Technologies (APT), a Ballston-based maker of cloud based data analysis software, has received a $100 million minority investment from Goldman Sachs. APT plans to use the funding to open an office in Japan and take on more clients. The company lists Wal-Mart and McDonald’s among its existing customers. [Bloomberg]
Flickr pool photo by ddimick
Concealed Carry Permits Spike in Arlington — The number of applications for concealed-carry permits in Arlington has quadrupled in the past 8 years, and continued to spike. Last year the Circuit Court received 1,042 applications from whose who want to carry concealed weapons. This year the office is expecting nearly 1,600. [Sun Gazette]
Whipple Pens Pro-Streetcar Op-Ed — In an op-ed, former state Senator Mary Margaret Whipple compares the heated debate over the planned Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcar systems to the debate over the construction of Metrorail through Arlington in the 1970s. “A small but vocal faction of our community claimed that the proposed Orange, Blue and Yellow lines were too expensive and risky and argued that we should just use buses instead,” Whipple writes. “After much deliberation, Arlington invested in rail.” [Washington Post]
New Gym for George Mason? — George Mason University’s Arlington campus currently lacks a fitness center for students. A plan to build a new gym, put in place after a student petition in 2011, has not moved forward because it was determined that the project would go over budget. The university is currently exploring options for either constructing a new fitness center or partnering with a nearby office building to use its gym. [Connect2Mason]
DCA Fight Attendants Protest Knife Decision — Flight attendants have been handing out flyers to passengers at Reagan National Airport, encouraging them to sign an online petition against a recent TSA decision that will allow small knives to be carried on to planes. [WAMU]
The establishment, which is located in a strip mall at the corner of Columbia Pike and Glebe Road, was seeking a renewal of its entertainment permit, to allow it to continue to host karaoke nights. Neighboring civic associations, the police department and Virginia ABC all opposed the renewal due to concerns about crime.
In a report to the Board, county staff said Sports House Grill has “had numerous [county] reviews and a consistently high number of police calls.”
“In the last year alone, there were 15 police calls for service for incidents (most resulting in arrests) related to the establishment,” staff wrote. “The consistently high numbers of calls for service at this establishment, along with concerns about over-serving of patrons, litter, various inappropriate activity in the parking lot and surrounding neighborhood, and other issues have adversely affected the health and safety of surrounding businesses and communities by, among other things creating noise and reducing the residential character of the area.”
Neighbors told the Board that Sports House Grill owner Hugo Flores had made “zero effort” to respond to their concerns over the past few months. Concerns cited by neighbors include violence in the parking lot, vandalism and “drug sales.”
The business owner and his attorney told the Board that Sports House Grill has private security inside the restaurant, has had no problems with noise or health code violations, and has just appointed a new community liaison. The liaison appointment, however, seemed to be viewed by the Board and neighbors as too little, too late.
In the end, the Board voted unanimously to deny the live entertainment permit renewal.
“The County goes to great efforts to allow businesses to do this sort of thing,” said County Board member Chris Zimmerman, who lives in nearby Douglas Park, citing the relatively long list of county reviews of the business in the 7 years it has been owned by Flores. Zimmerman said the Board’s vote to deny the permit was “highly unusual.”
Sports House Grill is the second Columbia Pike restaurant with a primarily Hispanic clientele to face questions about its karaoke nights in the past year. In November, the Board deferred a live entertainment permit request for Restaurante El Salvador (4805 Columbia Pike) over crime concerns.
In a separate agenda item, the County Board voted to allow a live entertainment and dancing permit for another Columbia Pike restaurant with a history of crime and noise problems.
After numerous deferrals, the Board voted unanimously on Saturday to grant Pines of Italy (3111 Columbia Pike) a live entertainment permit. The vote had the blessing of the president of the Arlington Heights Civic Association, a major reversal of the association’s outspoken opposition to the permit last year.
At the request of the restaurant’s owner, who said a county staff recommendation to require a midnight closing time would scuttle its nightclub-oriented business plan, the Board also voted to allow Pines of Italy to stay open until 2:00 a.m., on the condition of quarterly staff reviews and a County Board review in one year.
The Board was told that the owner had conducted sufficient neighborhood outreach and had agreed to various measures to address problems that had previously plagued the location, which borders a residential neighborhood and which has seen a succession of owners over the past few years.
The restaurant has been seeking a live entertainment permit since last spring. The permit, which would allow live music and dancing, has proven controversial with neighbors, who cited problems with noise, violence and public drunkenness at the location in the past. The Board twice deferred consideration of the permit last year, each time asking the owners of Pines of Italy to do more outreach to neighbors.
According to county staff, that outreach has still not occurred. While staff is recommending another deferral, the restaurant is apparently asking for the Board to vote on the permit once and for all.
From the county staff report:
The County Board considered this request at their April and September 2012 meetings, at which the County Board deferred consideration of the use permit due to concerns about Police issues and insufficient outreach to the community. The applicant was directed to establish communication with the community and to work with them on addressing their concerns. The applicant requested a deferral from the December 8, 2012 County Board meeting to the January 26, 2013 meeting with the intent that additional meetings would be scheduled to continue to work to a resolution on issues related to noise and crime impacts. Sufficient outreach has not been completed by the applicant. The intent of scheduling a meeting in December was to organize a representative meeting in which nearby residents and civic association members could discuss specific mitigation measures by which the applicant could implement to address ongoing issues. This meeting did not occur. The applicant does not agree to defer and wishes to be heard by the County Board in January. Staff is recommending that the County Board defer this request for two (2) months to allow sufficient time for the applicant to hold a meeting, which has not been scheduled as of the date of this report, with the Arlington Heights Civic Association to work through ongoing issues. Staff further recommends deferral to allow sufficient time to evaluate the applicant’s outreach and to ensure that issues have been addressed to the extent possible.
Arlington start-up EV Taxicabs had requested permits for 40 cabs, for which County Manager Barbara Donnellan gave a stamp of approval in October.
The topic has garnered much discussion over the past few months, and was held over from last month’s Board meeting to allow for more time to examine the details.
One of the sticking points is Arlington’s lack of infrastructure to support electric cars, namely charging stations. EV had promised to install charging stations throughout the county that residents would be able to use as well.
“There is no question that we do not have the infrastructure,” said Board member Jay Fisette. “Again, part of this application’s strengths was that in fact, after two years we would, without any public investment.”
Board member Chris Zimmerman said although the charging stations are part of the plan, the electric car technology is too new and there’s not enough evidence to prove it can be a long term option.
“This is a very interesting technology and very well may be the wave of the future. I don’t think we, at this point, know exactly how that technology is going to shake out,” said Zimmerman. “I feel like we’re not quite ready for this yet.”
Fisette pointed out that there were many skeptics when EnviroCab first proposed launching a hybrid fleet, but the company’s idea has since transformed the community.
“We’re out in front of the pack in most instances, this would put us further out,” Fisette said. “This is exactly the kind of innovation, the kind of opportunity that is needed for us to meet in the community energy plan.”
Board Chair Mary Hynes agreed that the electric fleet would be in line with the county’s long term energy plan, but feels it’s currently not a viable option.
“We’re at the infancy stages of this, we don’t yet have our county-wide strategy related to chargers,” Hynes said. “And I recognize that this proposer would jump start this a little bit, but I think we really do need to have our strategy in place.”
The board members encouraged EV to return during the next cab certificate allocation, in two years, to put in another request.
“I would hope that two years from now they’ll be back and we will have our game plan together and we’ll be in a position to allow this sort of a launch,” Hynes said.
Board members Libby Garvey and Jay Fisette voted in favor of EV Taxicab’s request, but Chris Zimmerman, Walter Tejada and Board Chair Mary Hynes voted no.
Despite going against Donnellan’s recommendation to approve the EV permits, the Board did side with Donnellan’s suggestion to grant additional cab permits. It’s the first time in four years the county suggested increasing the number of taxis on the road, during the certificate allocation process which takes place every two years. Prior to the increase, seven companies owned 765 licensed cabs.
Wheelchair accessible taxis make up a significant portion of the newly granted permits. Red Top Cab and Blue Top Cab companies each received five such permits. Friendly Cab Co. received 12 permits and will also launch a dispatch service. The total of 22 granted taxi certificates is well below the 65 suggested by Donnellan.
The Board sided with the county Transportation Commission in denying permits for EV Taxicab, but against the commission’s recommendation to divvy up some of the permits proposed for the company to Arlington-based EnviroCab.
Before her vote, Hynes also dealt a blow to taxi drivers hoping to obtain individual cab operating certificates. Hynes said that in the future, the Board is unlikely to approve new cab permits for companies that do not plan to utilize dispatch service.
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
The Board had previously deferred the issue at its April meeting in an effort to give the business owners more time to prove themselves worthy of being granted a permit. Similar to past meetings, residents from the surrounding area showed up on Saturday to voice concerns about issuing the permit. They cited the property’s history of consistent problems with patrons being violent and noisy. Some neighbors noted how peaceful the neighborhood has been for approximately six months because there has been no live entertainment on the site.
“The past six months have been a welcome reprieve from some of the extreme loud noise and violence,” said resident Aristia Glinka.
The county staff report for the permit had recommended approving the permit if the property owners agree to meet a series of conditions. However, Board members expressed concern that existing conditions had not been met, and there is no evidence that future conditions would be adhered to.
Although there have not been violent incidents during the past several months, Board members didn’t believe the owners had met the condition of fostering a relationship with the community. Tajalli did attend one Arlington Heights Civic Association meeting, but the Board said one meeting does not prove sufficient for making amends after all the previous years of poor relations.
“I think the neighbors are generally concerned about the lack of communication. We went over this in great detail last time,” Board member Walter Tejada said. “It’s really not acceptable from what I’ve heard so far, your lack of communicating.”
Another sticking point is Jorge Escobar’s continued involvement with the business. He has owned the property for more than a decade, including during the period when a previous entertainment permit was revoked.
The property currently has three partners who oversee the three different parts of the property — a restaurant, hookah bar and night club. Ali Tajalli, who manages the restaurant portion, said one business would not be able to handle the $15,000 a month cost of rent, so all three pay Escobar $5,000 each month.
Tajalli further explained his inability to keep the business open if the permit is not approved. He said that without all three partners contributing to the rent, the businesses will have to close in a matter of months. He asserted that being allowed to stay open until 2:00 a.m. for a six month trial period would keep the property afloat, while allowing an adequate period for the owners to prove themselves to the county.