INWOOD — The New York State Liquor Authority renewed the liquor license of Papasito Mexican Grill And Agave Bar Wednesday, citing improvements that the beleaguered Inwood restaurant has taken to curb its loud and rowdy atmosphere.
"Our investigators have made multiple visits and their report to us is that the establishment is now operating as a good neighbor," Authority Chairman Dennis Rosen said at the SLA monthly board meeting in Harlem. "There was no dancing and the music was not unreasonably loud."
Rosen added: "I think they got the message."
The SLA's renewal is the latest chapter in a series of dust-ups between Papasito and residents who say the Dyckman Street restaurant allows customers to party too loud and too late into the night.
Papasito's license has been in danger since the summer, when Community Board 12 voted against renewal. SLA investigators discovered that the restaurant, which opened in 2010, was moving furniture to create a dance floor — operating a de-facto nightclub in violation of their liquor license.
Papasito co-owner Fernando Mateo thanked the SLA for the renewal, but added that he was unhappy with the changes that the restaurant was forced to make, which included the removal of several speakers and prohibiting customers from dancing. Mateo said the changes have had an adverse effect on the restaurant's bottom line.
"Fifteen employees have been laid off," Mateo said, adding that more layoffs were to follow. Mateo added that Papsito has started serving breakfast at 4:00 a.m. "not because we want to, but we have to do what we can to keep the door open."
Residents in attendance at the hearing urged the SLA not to be swayed by Papasito's changes.
"We have been trying to work with this group for two years," said Katie Weaver, a tenant in the same building as Papasito. "If you grant the license carte blanche they will go back to what they were doing before."
Rosen however made it clear that he would not tolerate any backsliding from the restaurant.
"If the problems come back we will suspend the license," he said.