Los Imperios, located at 904 Farmington Ave. in West Hartford, had its entertainment license suspended for 15 days which ended Aug. 2, and a decision regarding further suspension based on continued violations will be made after a hearing with West Hartford’s police chief.
By Ronni Newton
Los Imperios is continuing to provide and promote DJs on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, while the West Hartford Police continue to provide the private duty detail that the establishment has refused.
The establishment defied the 15-day suspension of its entertainment license by continuing the practice of having a DJ, and those violations constitute additional violations of West Hartford’s entertainment ordinance, Police Chief Tracey Gove said. Under the town’s entertainment ordinance passed by the Town Council in October 2016, a valid entertainment license is required in order to have a DJ or live entertainment.
Gove said Wednesday that while he has put the establishment on notice of the additional violations, and informed Los Imperios owner Ernesto Leon that the license would be suspended for 30 days, and then subsequently informed him that the license would be revoked when there was yet another violation, the license is technically back in force right now while awaiting a hearing.
Because of the terms of the ordinance, the 15-day suspension expired Aug. 2, but because of the notice required to be provided under the terms of the ordinance, the 30-day suspension was due to begin Aug. 5, and the revocation was to be effective Aug. 9. If Los Imperios requested a hearing within 10 days, which they did, the action is suspended until a decision is made at that hearing.
“The are allowed to operate until we have that hearing,” Gove confirmed Wednesday.
When the additional suspension and revocation notices were sent to Los Imperios, on July 21 and July 24, Gove informed Leon that police had set a hearing date of Aug. 8 at 10 a.m. However, the establishment’s attorney, Rodvald Jones, was already scheduled to be out of town on that date and has requested a new date.
In a letter dated July 31, a copy of which has been obtained by We-Ha.com, Jones said that Los Imperios objects to the suspension of its entertainment license, as well as the assertion by Gove, in his July 21 letter, that Los Imperios does not have enough staff “or that action isn’t taken when they see ‘prohibited activity’ occurring: Los Imperios strictly prohibits smoking or illicit activity of any kind in the restaurant.”
Jones was referring to a police report of the odor of marijuana inside the establishment, as well as the discovery of “partially consumed and discarded” marijuana, which Jones said was not found by police but rather by Los Imperios security “who then reported and handed it over to the officer.”
“In any event, we strongly object and certainly want to be heard with respect to all of your suspension letters,” Jones wrote to Gove, asking for a new hearing date.
Gove said that Deputy Corporation Counsel Kimberly Boneham is working to schedule that date. If the hearing has not been scheduled by Aug. 21, the 30-day suspension will kick in, and if a hearing has not been scheduled by Aug. 24, the revocation kicks in, he said.
“Right now it depends on their attorney,” Gove said. “The 15-day suspension ended and we have to give them [the opportunity for] a hearing.”
Gove also said that for the third time this year, a Los Imperios bartender has been issued a summons and referred to the Liquor Control Commission for serving an underage patron.
As part of a Special Investigations Division compliance check on July 27, an underage female was sent to Los Imperios. Police said that the security officers looked at her ID, which was the type of Connecticut driver’s license issued to drivers under 21 (vertical rather than horizontal orientation) and gave her a bracelet allowing her to be served. She was the fourth underage person, in three different checks since March, to be served at Los Imperios. The bartender was issued a summons.
A compliance check was also performed at Plan B Burger Bar on Park Road that same night, and the minor was not asked for ID and was served. It was the establishment’s first offense and the bartender was given a warning, police said.
Both the Los Imperios and Plan B cases have been referred to the state Liquor Control Commission.
Regarding the private duty detail, Gove said that Los Imperios has continued to refuse the service, getting ticketed $250 for each refusal. The $1,362 per night cost of the detail, which has been in place for several months on nights when there is a DJ, is in the tens of thousands of dollars, none of which has been paid by Los Imperios.
Gove said that the effectiveness of the private duty detail is reviewed every four weeks under the terms of the entertainment ordinance, and the third review will be held the week of Aug. 21 to determine if it is still needed.
“Last weekend was quiet,” Gove said. “Nothing came to my attention.”
There were some noise complaints the last weekend of July, Asst. Chief Robert McCue said in a previous email exchange, likely stemming from the doors being opened due to a lack of air conditioning.
McCue also noted that at 1:48 a.m. on July 30, a patron leaving Los Imperios reported to police that his car was parked across the street and his “windshield was smashed with a brick and his car severely ‘keyed'” resulting in about $1,000 worth of damage.
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