Electeds cheer shuttering of Casa Romana

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Just weeks after they had rallied for its shutdown, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), state Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Ridgewood) and Community Board 2 Chairman Joe Conley celebrated the closure of the Casa Romana Restaurant and Bar in Sunnyside Friday.

“This was not a business that we could be proud of. This is a business that made people fear,” Van Bramer said at the celebration Friday.´╗┐

The politicians, along with about 50 activists and community members, had gathered in front of the restaurant at 39-20 Queens Blvd. in early September, demanding that the Police Department close it down after a brawl occurred outside involving teenagers who had been having a late-night party at the end of August. In the resulting, fray two individuals were stabbed and 14 people, including the owners of the bar, were arrested. The politicians and some community members came back in front of the restaurant Friday to celebrate its closure.

“We [rallied] ´╗┐because this community deserves better,” Van Bramer said.´╗┐

The councilman had also criticized the restaurant for teaming up with 4Skin Productions for an event that had been set to take place Oct. 8. The event advertised “body shots,” a “lap dance contest,” a “wet T-shirt event” and “oil wrestling.” It was canceled.

“It was something that really was enraging,” Nolan said.

Van Bramer called the event a toned-down strip club-type event.

Van Bramer’s office said the city Police Department closed the establishment for “nuisance abatement.” The decision was based on previous violations for having a disorderly premise and serving alcohol to minors. The case will eventually go to the Queens County Supreme Court.

The state Liquor Authority also had multiple pending disciplinary charges against the business, including selling to minors, allowing the premises to become disorderly and failure to comply with building codes.

“I think [the closure] shows what can be done when there is unified cooperation,” Nolan said.

Van Bramer said this measure was not meant to be taken as a message that the Queens leaders did not want businesses to flourish. He said the owner of Pete’s Grill, at 39-14 Queens Blvd. in Sunnyside, was present at the celebration.

The politicians thanked the 108th Precinct for shutting down the bar.

“This sends a very clear message to businesses that operate illegally and negatively affect our quality of life,” Conley said.

Officers for the 108th Precinct were present at the celebration, but declined to comment, citing legal reasons.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Updated 6:25 pm, October 10, 2011
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