City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and state Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Ridgewood) led about 50 people in a rally to close the Casa Romana Bar in Sunnyside last Thursday. The demand was in response to an altercation in which two minors were stabbed outside the Queens Boulevard eatery Aug. 28.
“It is unacceptable,” Van Bramer said. “It will not continue. We will shut this place down.”
The incident that incensed about 50 residents and Community Board 2 members occurred at 12:40 a.m. Aug. 28, outside the restaurant at 39-20 Queens Blvd. in Sunnyside, police sources said. A brawl occurred that resulted in 14 individuals being arrested, including the owners, who were charged with criminal nuisance, and two individuals being stabbed, police said. The individuals were sent to Elmhurst Hospital in stable condition, police said.
Will Nieves, who co-owns the restaurant with his mother, said the bar had been hosting a back-to-school party. Although the incident was chaperoned, he said the party filtered outside, where the altercation occurred. He later heard the incident was gang-related.
“They were young and they were a little stupid,” Nieves said.
Van Bramer led the crowd in a chant of “Shut it down.” He said the bar had been “cited numerous times for practices that are illegal and unethical” and said alcohol had been served to minors at the establishment.
CB 2 District Manager Debra Markell said the establishment endangers the lives of young people, residents and police officers.
“This is about greed,” said Community Board 2 Chairman Joseph Conley. “This establishment has put a dollar bill over the life of a teenager and the life of a police officer.”
Members of the 108th Precinct were present, although they made no statement and did not participate in the chants.
“They may not be able to say this publicly, but they want this place shut down just as much as we do,” Van Bramer said.
He said he had introduced legislation to allow the police to shut down a club or bar if they believe it is a danger to the community. He said under current law the establishment needs to have three disorderly premises or three underage drinking charges to be closed.
Nieves said there was no alcohol served at the event where the brawl occurred. The establishment had been cited for serving to a minor six months ago, but the charge was dismissed. Nieves said, however, he believed the residents had every right to be angry about the noise and was looking to stop holding parties at night.
“We understand that some of the parties we have at night — they can get a little rowdy,” he said.
A “For Sale” sign was posted in front of Casa Romano’s awning during the rally.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cn
©2010 Community News Group
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