Closure of Problem Bar Seen as Victory for Residents, More May Come Next Week

After a marathon four-hour hearing, residents and Chelsea Police are hailing the decision of the License Commission on Tuesday night to pull the liquor and entertainment licenses at Las Palmas Restaurant and Lounge, 44 Central Ave., as a victory for quality of life.

“There were a lot of factors in the Board’s decision on this, but overwhelmingly it was the concerns of residents, the years of complaints, the violence and fighting there, and the numbers of calls to the police,” said Commissioner Roy Avellaneda. “The Board rescinded the bar’s license to sell alcohol and have entertainment. They can continue to operate as a restaurant and we’ll see where that goes…They were issued a license for a restaurant and you can see that has completely changed over to a lounge. They’ve even changed the name from Palmas Restaurant to Palmas Lounge. We never issued a license for a lounge. They completely changed the use…What is there is not in the spirit of the original license.”

The definitive move on Tuesday night might just be the tip of the iceberg as it pertains to bars and lounges and clubs in Chelsea that generate problems and violence.

Next Tuesday, May 5, the License Commission will conduct a public hearing into violent incidents at Plaza Mexico, with a possibility that location could also meet a similar fate.

The Palmas hearing this past Tuesday was generated by a shooting and carjacking outside the lounge on April 3. Police said that Ruben Ortiz, of Dorchester, allegedly shot up a car outside of the lounge and then carjacked a passing motorist on Central Avenue. He had that person allegedly drive him to the McArdle Bridge where he allegedly tossed the firearm into the Creek before being arrested.

Even more disturbing was the conduct of the management of the lounge when police arrived.

Police told the Commission that upon arrival, the owners closed down the metal grates on the establishment and would not let patrons leave or police come in.

“A Chelsea officer testified that he could hear people screaming and yelling inside bar and was refused admittance to check on the wellbeing of persons inside,” read a statement from police. “Only after a police supervisor arrived and told management that he would forcibly enter the establishment did the management let officers in to see if any other victims were inside and to begin the preliminary investigation. Officers also testified that management stated that the bars’ surveillance system was not working.”

Avellaneda said that piece of information was a major factor in the decision too.

“Police couldn’t get in to interview witnesses; patrons were locked inside and couldn’t get out,” he said. “That was a big thing for us.”

Additionally, on April 7, the City’s Inspectional Services Department paid a visit to the lounge and found several violations – including selling alcohol purchases in local liquor stores, which is a direct violation of the liquor license.

Neighbors presented a petition to the Commission as well with several hundred signatures.

Councillor Giovanni Recupero said the shut-down was a victory for the neighbors. He said he has been calling for a repeal of the license for the last three years.

“I’ve been pushing this for more than a year,” he said. “After all this time, they finally did it, after all the incidents they had. I didn’t want to give it to them when they came up to extend their parking last year, but they got it anyway. I’ve been calling for this a long time and I’m glad it finally happened.”

Police Chief Brian Kyes said the department also presented proof that the police have been called to the establishment some 58 times. He also thanked residents for coming out and speaking up against the lounge, which is owned by a Dorchester man.

“All bars in the city should be on notice that the Chelsea Police Department is committed to ensuring all establishments follow the rules and regulations that govern their license,” he said. “You will see increased inspections in the coming weeks and our officers will not hesitate to take action on any violations.”

Avellaneda said it is a continuation of several such victories for quality of life issues, just as in the revocation of the King Arthur’s licenses last year.

“Being a bar or restaurant doesn’t automatically mean you’re a negative,” he said. “People love going to Davis Square in Somerville because there are bars and music there. Those places don’t, however, become a drain on the community. There are plenty of places with liquor licenses that contribute positively to the community.”

The business does have a five day appeal period upon receiving the written decision from the city before the sanctions take effect.

The hearing on Plaza Mexico will take place in the Chelsea Pubic Library at 6 p.m. on May 5.

3 comments for “Closure of Problem Bar Seen as Victory for Residents, More May Come Next Week

  1. Kris
    May 6, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    Thank you! Thank You! Thank You! I personally live a stones throw from this place and I can honestly say that it has been non-stop trouble since day one. An illegal patio, loud music, always lots of loud drunks screaming at 2am, lots of fights out front, broken glass everywhere. I also can second the claim about booze being bought from retail outlets rather than a distributor, I even have pictures of them doing so somewhere. I’ve known there have been questionable things going on there for quite some time.

    This place has tried (and with the new name seemed to do so) position itself as a bar.. and we’ve known this for a while as residents. A restaurant classification is a joke.. this place is a bar thru and thru. It’s never open any earlier than 4pm, and I’ve never seen anyone eat in there (and good luck trying to order food, they claim they are out of everything very often). They’ve been covering up their bar business as a resteraunt too long, and I’m glad the city has finally taken notice and took action.

    I really think considering the problems in the past, the whole place should be shut down permenantl. Not only for what I state above but what the CPD have experienced in the article. They are not helpful neighbors and want to work with CPD on this, this is clear. They want to make a buck, pass all the problems onto the neighborhood, and walk away. It’s time for this place to go.. permanently.

    But thank you City of Chelsea to finally do something about this place.

  2. Sir_Shurtleff
    May 6, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    THANK GOODNESS! This place was atrocious! So much riff raff!

  3. MU
    May 31, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    In my opinion, I do understand that many restaurants and bars doesn’t follow the rules of the city.. but come on, the environment of chelsea is not very good any where you go.. even though a couple months ago, I was stopped by a police because I was waiting a mother of two getting to the car safely before I can continued driving my car,so, behind my car the chelsea police officer honk on me like three times (I didn’t know it was a police), therefore I wait till the women goes safely into the car, so when I start driven my car I got stop by the police, then I stopped my car and rolled down the window, and the chelsea police start insulting me saying, ” stupid, get out my way, ” without asking me for the license and the registration of the car… So I think that in order to chelsea become a good neighboorhood.. chelsea need to get rid of the corrupt, arrogant and ignorant police officers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *