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Restaurant in Alleged Cop Drinking Incident Changing Owners

By DNAinfo Staff on September 6, 2012 11:16am

La Parrilla Restaurant in Washington Heights has been the source of multiple community complaints.
La Parrilla Restaurant in Washington Heights has been the source of multiple community complaints.
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DNAinfo/Carla Zanoni

By Claudio E. Cabrera and Carla Zanoni
DNAinfo New York Staff

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — A controversial Washington Heights restaurant owner who police said went on the lam after being accused of sexually assualting a waitress at his restaurant in February is now trying to transfer ownership of the eatery to his brother.

Gino Hernandez, who has not been criminally charged in connection to the alleged attack, wants to transfer ownership of Parilla Steakhouse at 3290 Broadway to his brother Don Manuel Hernandez because he has fallen ill, the brother said.

"He is no longer capable of running the company's day-to-day operations,” Hernandez told Community Board 12 Tuesday.

Community Board 12 tabled a request to transfer ownership, saying it was unable to proceed without more information.

Parrilla Steakhouse came under much scrutiny after the February incident when four 33rd Precinct police officers were caught drinking while on the job at the restaurant.

A waitress at the restaurant claimed she was partying with the officers when she went to a back room with one of the officers. She then said she fell asleep only to wake up to find her boss allegedly fondling her, sources said.

Investigators said at the time that they were not been able to find Parilla's owner this spring, and were seeking to question him, sources said. It was not immediately clear whether he was still wanted for questioning.

Local police and elected officials have expressed serious concerns about the restaurant, including loud noise and receiving five violations for serving minors since May, according to police.

"That is a huge red flag and we vote no against the corporate change,” said new 33rd Precinct Commanding Officer Rich Pichardo.

City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez also recommended against the application, suggesting that the decision be put on hold “until local precinct and elected officials sit down with this restaurant to figure out how we can change the perception and reality of La Parilla.”

"Everyone knows I'm in support of all small businesses," said Rodriguez. "But quality of life issues can't only be addressed in certain parts of our community, they have to be addressed everywhere."

But according to Manuel Vidal, the restaurant's accountant and spokesman, the restaurant owners have worked with neighbors recently to address concerns such as noise insulation and should be seen as good neighbors.

"We are going to work our hardest to make sure the past doesn't repeat itself," Vidal said.