Cops Close Papasito Following Months of Complaints from Locals

By Leslie Albrecht on March 6, 2012 7:47am 

Cops closed Papasito Mexican Grill & Agave Bar at 2728 Broadway on Friday, March 2. A notice on the door said the restaurant had been selling alcohol illegally.
Cops closed Papasito Mexican Grill & Agave Bar at 2728 Broadway on Friday, March 2. A notice on the door said the restaurant had been selling alcohol illegally.
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DNAinfo/Leslie Albrecht

UPPER WEST SIDE — Declaring it a public nuisance, cops have shut down Papasito Mexican Grill & Agave Bar after months of complaints from angry neighbors about noise and late-night disturbances.

Documents posted on the restaurant's front door at 2728 Broadway said Papasito was closed by court order because the restaurant sold booze to underage patrons on multiple occasions, even after it was busted for serving drinkers younger than 21 in December.

It was unclear whether the closure was permanent. A court hearing on the case was scheduled for Tuesday, according to documents on the restaurant's front door.

Officials with the State Liquor Authority did not respond to requests for comment.

Papasito's closure marks a victory for neighbors, who mounted a passionate campaign against the restaurant, which stayed open until 4 a.m. on weekends and served an all-you-can-drink brunch.

The restaurant's backers said they wanted to open a lively venue where diners could relax with an after-dinner drink. But neighbors complained that Papasito, whose bouncers frisked patrons for weapons when the eatery first opened last fall, brought an unwelcome nightclub vibe to their quiet residential area.

Papasito has an Inwood location that's attracted similar complaints.

A neighbor who battled against Papasito said he and other residents were in a state of "wary joy" over the closure of the restaurant's Broadway and West 104th Street location.

"Dozens of people worked to deal with this problem, this scourge," said the resident, who didn't want to be named because he feared retribution by Papasito's owners. "I think people are overjoyed that somehow the process seemed to have worked, but they’re worried that somehow they’ll find a away around it."

Papasito's owner, Eusebio Chavez, did not respond to a request for comment.

Neighbors started complaining about noise, late-night crowds and fights at the restaurant shortly after it opened in September 2011. Police said they arrested a customer outside Papasito after he put a cop in a chokehold in October.

Fernando Mateo, president of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers, rushed to Papasito's defense at a series of public meetings. He accused neighbors of lying about problems at the restaurant and painted Papasito as a struggling small business that employed local single moms.

Papasito also had several run-ins with city and state authorities. The Department of Buildings fined Papasito's landlords because the restaurant violated building codes; the Department of Environmental Protection issued a violation against the restaurant for strong odors; and the state Department of Labor investigated Papasito for allegedly not paying workers fairly.

The restaurant's landlords said in December that Papasito owed $27,000 in back rent.

Later that month, Community Board 7 took the rare step of asking the State Liquor Authority to deny Papasito's liquor license application.

Shortly afterward, the State Liquor Authority filed a complaint against Papasito after NYPD detectives witnessed waitresses serving underage drinkers. According to the documents posted on Papasito's door Friday, detectives saw the same thing happen in January.

Police closing a restaurant is unusual on the Upper West Side, where concerns about eateries usually center on whether they're family friendly.

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