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Complaint-Ridden Papasito Restaurant Owes $27K in Rent, Landlord Says

By Leslie Albrecht | December 20, 2011 7:20am
Papasito, at 2728 Broadway, has generated complaints from neighbors about noise and fights.
Papasito, at 2728 Broadway, has generated complaints from neighbors about noise and fights.
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DNAinfo/Leslie Albrecht

UPPER WEST SIDE — Papasito Mexican Grill & Agave Bar has long infuriated neighbors who complained about noise and late hours — but now it has run afoul of its landlords, who say it owes $27,000 in back rent.

Residents who live near Papasito say the restaurant, which stays open til 4 a.m. on weekends, has brought raucous crowds and an unwelcome nightclub vibe to the otherwise quiet block of Broadway and West 105th Street.

Now residents in the apartments directly above Papasito at 2728 Broadway, a 16-unit apartment co-op building, say the eatery owes them two months' rent. Papasito is leasing ground-floor space for $13,500 a month, a resident said.

At a meeting of the co-op's shareholders last Thursday night, the building's board president announced that Papasito had not paid November or December rent, according to a resident who was present at the meeting.

"They have the nerve to get upset when we ask them not to play the music, and they haven't  paid their rent?" said the resident, who asked not to be named to protect her against retaliation. "It's so disrespectful."

Representatives for Papasito could not be reached immediately for comment. 2728 Broadway's board president did not respond to a request for comment.

The board president said at the Thursday meeting that she was consulting a lawyer, and expected Papasito to pay up this week, according to the resident.

Papasito, which opened in mid-September, has generated a steady stream of complaints from neighbors who've pleaded with the restaurant to keep a lid on loud music and boisterous crowds.

Management has also had similar complaints about an Inwood outpost of the restaurant.

Papasito representatives have repeatedly said they're taking measures to muffle the restaurant's noise and keep crowds in check.

"We're going to do whatever we humanly can do to be good neighbors," Papasito spokesman Fernando Mateo, who is also the president of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers, said at a recent Community Board 7 meeting.

Papasito took over the space formerly occupied by Angelina Pizza Bar, and is serving alcohol under the former restaurant's liquor license until it gets its own liquor license. The State Liquor Authority is scheduled to review Papasito's application at a public hearing on Dec. 27.

Community Board 7 recently voted against endorsing Papasito's liquor license application after angry residents lined up to complain about sleepless nights.

"This is not an establishment like the other restaurants in the neighborhood," said local resident Paul Shapiro. "There are people coming out screaming."

Papasito serves high-end Mexican fare like $18 burritos, and a $28 filet mignon with Huajillo chile red wine reduction. A long list of specialty cocktails includes jumbo-sized "vaso gigante" martinis for $20. On weekends, the restaurant's $19.95 brunch buffet includes "unlimited Jack punch, mimosa, bellini and tequila sunrise."

Community Board 7 has asked the restaurant to close at 2 a.m. on weekends, but Papasito representatives say the only way they can stay in business is to operate a late-night lounge that serves booze until 4 a.m.

Some neighbors say they won't rest until Papasito closes down altogether, but a resident who lives in one of the apartments above the restauant said she doesn't want Papasito to go out of business.

"We don't want them to leave, we just want them to operate a legitimate business as a restaurant," the resident said. "We don't want a lounge, we don't want a nightclub. I'm not sure why Papasito can't quite get that. Why do they have to operate on the side as a club?"

The State Liquor Authority is scheduled to review Papasito's liquor license application on  Tuesday Dec. 27 at 11 a.m. at 317 Lenox Avenue, 4th floor.