Upham's Corner Online

UCWNA Votes Approval for Additional Paraiso Restaurant Licenses

Posted: December 13, 2011     Nancy J Conrad

Paraiso Restaurant opened on July 5, 2011 with a beer and wine license transferred from the prior restaurant, 750 Grill. The takeout and live entertainment licenses were denied because the licensing board wanted the restaurant management to meet with neighborhood organizations regarding any concerns.

The restaurant manager, Gregory Colon, met with Westside Neighborhood residents and shared his view of the type of live entertainment that would take place and how it would be handled.  Area residents raised issues concerning attendee behavior, drinking, noise and trash.

Most concerns were assuaged and the group voted to write a letter of support.

View Paraiso Restaurant Project Plan

Paraiso Restaurant opened on July 5, 2011 with a beer and wine license transferred from the prior restaurant, 750 Grill. The takeout and live entertainment licenses were denied because the licensing board wanted the restaurant management to meet with neighborhood organizations regarding any concerns.

The capacity of the restaurant is approximately 90 people consisting of two rooms: 36 people in the small room and 56 in the greenhouse. Gregory Colon, 23 years old, is the Manager and his mother, Marinella Ceballo is the chef.  

According to Gregory, the restaurant applied for live entertainment and takeout licenses but was unaware of how important the community input was:  "until I received the letter from City Hall citing the need to meet with, and get the support of area residents and organizations."

That is why Bob Haas, Pres. of the Upham's Corner Westside Neighborhood Association, asked area residents for their "emergency" support.  The sooner that Paraiso Restaurant, struggling to survive in a poor neighborhood, gets the licenses they so "desparately" need to become a successful Upham's Corner business, the better.

Gregory explained:  "When we were first applying for licenses, we were unable to transfer the takeout and live entertainment licenses but we did manage to have the beer and wine license transferred.  Although the prior restaurant, 750 Grill,  had both the live entertainment and take out licenses, the licensing board refused us because we have to sit with the community and get their feedback."

Bob Haas noted: "So the changes you are requesting amount to no change from what already existed at 750 Grill." 

Gregory: "The 750 Grill did have a singer.  It was a relaxed atmosphere.  There was no dancing.  We intend to do the same thing."  Area residents didn't seem to be aware that the 750 Grill had any live entertainment as it certainly had not disrupted the neighborhood.

The entertainment license the restaurant has applied for:
  • Is valid from 10:30 PM to 1 AM
  • Applies only to Thursday, Friday and Saturday
  • Does not include entertainment out on the Plaza (one-day special license required for that)
  • Allows the restaurant to be treated as a nightclub
Paraiso Restaurant wants to use the main room which is under 40 in capacity to be the  live event location.  They want to start out small at first.
  1. We're planning to have a bouncer to restrict access to the entertainment area. 
  2. Takeout will be located along the divider that separates the two rooms.
  3. People who do not want to participate in the live entertainment are welcome to sit in the greenhouse and just eat.
  4. In order to participate in the live entertainment, you have to be over 21 so we are going to be checking IDs.
  5. After 10:30 PM, a customer is not required to eat - they can be on the premises just drinking
  6. We want to limit the dance option
  7. There will be a cover charge
  8. There will be a strict dress code
  9. Because the restrooms are in the entertainment section, anyone wanting to use the restroom will have to be escorted. 
A new regulation is further blocking their efforts.  An event with more than 50 people requires the restaurant to have a sprinkler system which Paraiso Restaurant does not currently have.  It is not known if the sprinkler regulation applies to the full capacity of the restaurant or just to the entertainment area.

Problems on the Outside

A resident observed: "What usually happens to shutter a restaurant down usually takes place on the outside of the restaurant."

How is the restaurant planning to control what happens on the terrace?  For example, people in the live entertainment event may want to go out for some fresh air. Or they might want to go outside and smoke.  According to Mr. Colón, the law says they cannot smoke in the plaza. 

Paraiso Restaurant plans to have two security guards - a bouncer and someone that is certified.  They also want to be able to monitor the parking area behind the restaurant after one o'clock in the morning.  "Our license says that everyone should be off the premises by 1:30 AM."

Gregory says:  "We are planning to watch how many drinks we give each person.  Yes, an attendee has the option of just drinking but we have to be very careful.  Just because someone has money in his pocket, it does not give him a right to drink in excess."

Decibels and Noise Level

Another resident asked about the noise level:  "We have not given any consideration to the decibel level in the entertainment area.  The types of music we will be having reflect the local ethnic groups: jazz, meringue, bachata, salsa.  We want to have a relaxed asked atmosphere reasons to have conversations and be heard.  We want to gain some experience.  Will we want to start off small, see how we do.  Same for the beer and wine license.  We have to be very careful because of the crowd."

Mr. Colón talked about people he sees in the neighborhood.  "We are not looking to attract young kids who just want to hang out.  We're looking for different crowd.  That's why we are going to have a security guard.  And hopefully the police will help us out after 1 AM."

Related to the Takeout License

Additional issues discussed include the following:
  • Tash cans outside to accommodate people requesting food for take-up
  • Problems created by double parking for people wanting to run in and quickly get their food
Mr. Colon's manner seemed to appease the attendees and they voted to support the restaurant in their petition for additional business licenses.  

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