Latinos Falcon, the Broadway bar and billiards parlor that was handed a 10-week liquor license suspension in the spring, is getting a second chance from the Licensing Commission.
While the bar has served the suspension for a variety of offenses, from overserving a customer to some questionable interactions between patrons and staff, the Commission also rolled back the bar’s closing time from 1 a.m. to 11 p.m. Last week, the Commission voted to reinstate the 1 a.m. closing from Thursdays through Sundays for a 90-day probationary period. The bar will be allowed to stay open until midnight on Mondays through Wednesdays.
At last week’s Licensing Commission meeting, bar staff and supporters, including several City Councillors, argued the reduced hours were financially hurting the family business.
“We served the 10-week suspension and it was a huge hit for our family and our employees,” said Giovanni Molina, whose brother and father, Nelson Sr. and Jr., own Latinos Falcon.
Molina noted that closing early takes away two hours during which the bar had previously done heavy business.
“We have gone above and beyond in redeeming ourselves after these unfortunate incidents,” said Molina.
Chelsea Police Captain Keith Houghton made no official recommendation on reinstating the hours, but noted that the owners have made big strides in addressing the issues related to the original suspension.
“There has been significant improvement in the area, and Mr. Molina (Jr.) has been very proactive with me,” said Houghton. He said there have been major upgrades to security at the establishment, and staff have undergone increased training.
The Police Department and the Licensing Commission have been working on new security regulations over the past several months. Houghton said some of those regulations, such as background checks for restaurant and bar security personnel, are still being fine-tuned.
While Latinos Falcon has not been the only establishment in Chelsea to come under scrutiny, Houghton said Molina Jr. has been the only bar owner working proactively with the police department.
City Councillors Yamir Rodriguez, Damali Vidot, Enio Lopez, and Judith Garcia were among those who packed the hearing room and spoke in favor of giving Latinos Falcon and the Molina family a second chance.
“I’ve been there after the suspension, so I’ve seen all the improvements, and I’ve seen them struggle,” said Rodriguez. “Their key business hours are after 9:30 p.m. I believe that without the extended hours, they will struggle and I don’t want to see another Chelsea establishment close down.”
Vidot said she spoke in favor of some kind of action against Latinos Falcon in May, but said she felt the 10-week suspension was excessive. She also noted that a number of small businesses are starting to feel pressured and attacked by the city, and urged the Licensing Commission to walk the fine line between addressing violations and allowing small businesses to thrive.
Garcia said the owners have made a good-faith effort to address issues at the bar.
“They have been proactive in trying to make things right, and have acknowledged that what they have done was wrong,” said Garcia.
Licensing Commission member James Guido agreed that Latinos Falcon deserves a second chance.
“I think the 10 weeks was a little heavy,” said Guido. “They do employ a lot of people and seem like a very nice family that should have a second chance…It impresses me that the business admitted that it was wrong and did not try to deny what took place.”