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Parrilla Steakhouse Gets Reprieve in Quest to Change Owners

By DNAinfo Staff on October 25, 2012 9:19am

 Community Board 12 again tabled its vote on Parrilla Steakhouse restaurant's corporate change request during its Oct. 2012 meeting.
Community Board 12 again tabled its vote on Parrilla Steakhouse restaurant's corporate change request during its Oct. 2012 meeting.
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DNAinfo/Carla Zanoni

By Catherine Featherston

Special to DNAinfo.com New York

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Local leaders gave the embattled Parrilla Steakhouse yet another temporary reprieve, the latest lifeline in its quest to transfer ownership and keep the restaurant alive.

Community Board 12 once again tabled a vote on the matter after Hector Santana, an independent compliance consultant recently hired by the Parrilla Steakhouse's owner’s brother, urged members of the board this week to work with the restaurant.

“Any opportunity for the community board to work with small business to ensure they comply with the community’s needs and regulatory agency’s requirements should be taken,” said Santana.

The goal of Santana's presentation was to convince CB12 to recommend that the State Liquor Authority approve its corporate change license request.

Until now, Parrilla had been under the advisement of their accountant and spokesman Manuel Vidal. Santana was brought on board by Don Manuel Hernandez, who is trying to gain ownership of the restaurant from his ill brother, Gino, who has been criticized for irresponsible business practices.

City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez claims his office has received more than 400 noise complaints over the past several years stemming from the restaurant. He has recommended against approving the change in ownership “until local precinct and elected officials sit down with this restaurant to figure out how we can change the perception and reality of La Parrilla.”

The restaurant was enmeshed in a scandal last February when four detectives from the 33rd Precinct were caught drinking there while still on duty. Investigators are also looking into allegations against Gino Hernandez for sexual harassment after the February incident.

The NYPD could not immediately provide details on the status of the investigation.

At the time, politicians called for a full investigation into the allegations and for the closure of the restaurant, which they say constructed an illegal back room where the alleged assault took place. The Department of Buildings is also investigating whether a back room the restaurant owner constructed out of a ground floor apartment in the building is legal, officials said.

DOB officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Santana said he and the business owners are willing to work with city agencies and community leaders. He added that since being retained to work with Parrilla on compliance last month, he has led an effort to beef up soundproofing in the restaurant and updated their ID verification software.

“We have a lot of business owners who are not well advised,” he said. “We have a responsibility as a community to make sure they are informed and educated.”

Community Board 12's licensing committee will continue its discussion of Parrilla's application during its meeting on Nov. 13. The full board will vote on the resolution at the end of the month during its general meeting.