INWOOD — The State Liquor Authority is threatening to deny an Inwood restaurant a license renewal if there is any evidence of late-night dancing at the popular spot.
Neighbors say Papasito Mexican Grill and Agave Bar at Broadway and Dyckman Street has continued to cause public disturbances despite a growing number of noise complaints since its opening in 2010.
"It's after certain hours that they act like a nightclub, but it's not in the afternoon," said Maggie Clark, who also manages the community garden across the street from the restaurant, and is also a member of Dyckman-Inwood Noise Action. "I would not be surprised if the fire marshall should be in there."
Residents who live upstairs from restaurant say the music from the restaurant and the outside street noise from nighttime patrons prevents them from sleeping.
Community Board 12 submitted a letter at the last State Liquor Authority board meeting held July 25, requesting the commission to deny Papasito its liquor license renewal.
"I would have thought SW Management by now could have taken care this kind of unacceptable behavior on the part of Papasito and their disturbingly high volume of music being played within their late night club," wrote Jay Dias, who lives six floors above the lively restaurant, in his letter of complaint to the SLA, mentioning the building's landlord as well. He also turned in 45 complaints from other building residents at the public meeting.
But Papasito co-owner Fernando Mateo said the problem had been overblown.
"It's about a few people who are complaining," he said. Some of the complaints came from residents living more than two blocks away, he added.
In an effort to compromise, he said he has removed all the bass speakers from the restaurant.
Papasito Mexican Grill has received three noise violations from the New York Department of Environment over the last two years: two citations in November 2010 and one in November 2011. The last noise complaint was investigated by the department in April, and resulted in no fine since the restaurant was within the noise limit, a public official said.
New York State Liquor Authority Chairman Dennis Rosen warned Mateo and Chino Chavez that if there was any proof or evidence of dancing at the restaurant during late night hours that would be the end of Papasito's liquor license.
"On the one hand it's the city that never sleeps, but on the other hand we have got people who have to get to sleep," Rosen said during the authority's last meeting. "If there's any dancing that is going to be the death of Papasito."
The Papasito location in Inwood draws a largely Latino crowd who love eating dinner late and tapping their feet to the beat of merengue, Mateo said.
"We tell people that there is no dancing on the premises. But we can't put shackles on their feet," said Mateo, who has posted signs inside the restaurant that reads 'No Dancing.'
Papasito's location in the Upper West Side between 104th and 105th streets on Broadway has also received noise complaints and violations as well as a fine from the SLA for underage drinking. The final decision for the Inwood Mexican restaurant will be decided during a SLA during a full board meeting in August.