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Terraza 7 Reopens After Brief Shutdown for $100K in State Fines

By Katie Honan | June 19, 2014 2:33pm
 Owner Freddy Castiblanco has operated Terraza 7 for 12 years and said he felt the state was unfair in closing his business down — without a hearing.
Owner Freddy Castiblanco has operated Terraza 7 for 12 years and said he felt the state was unfair in closing his business down — without a hearing.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

ELMHURST — Music club and bar Terraza 7 reopened Monday after being shut down by the state last week for failing to pay more than $100,000 in workers' compensation insurance fines, officials and the owner said.

Freddy Castiblanco, 42, said representatives from the state Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) shuttered his business Friday around 9:30 p.m., when it was packed with customers, and slapped a stop work order on his door.

The issue stemmed from two year-long lapses in insurance, which is mandatory for employers to carry under state law, according to a spokesman for the WCB. 

The fines ballooned to around $108,000 over the years, according to the spokesman.

The business didn't carry insurance from June 14, 2010 until June, 19, 2011 and again from July 25, 2013 up until the present, the spokesman said. Castiblanco disputes the dates, although further information from his accountant was not immediately available.

Terraza 7 was shut down Friday night as the bar was filled with patrons, ahead of a busy weekend at the popular club, Castiblanco said.

"They didn't call me to go to court," he said. "They just came here to shut down the business on the weekend."

The stop work order was lifted on Monday and the fines — which were lowered to $61,785 — will be paid over a five-year period, according to the WCB spokesman. There wasn't a specific reason why Friday night was chosen for the shutdown, the spokesman said.

The weekend schedule that he had to cancel included a performance by popular band Moneco, a fundraiser for a local political group and a jam session with a Grammy-award winning artist John Benitez.

He also expected big crowds for last Saturday's World Cup match between Colombia and Greece.

"I understand I would get some kind of sanction, but they shouldn't come suddenly to close my business," he said. "They should visit us and suggest the best way to do things."

He said both city and state agencies are overloading small businesses with fines — he pointed to a $600 fine from the Department of Health after he ran out of soap on an employee sink during a recent inspection as an example. 

Castiblanco also wondered why officials came on a Friday night, when he couldn't do anything to fix the situation until Monday.

"It's a way to put pressure on businesses," he said. "Every weekend matters to me."

Terraza 7, which has been open for 12 years, will show all World Cup matches on a large projector screen, and upcoming shows include Colombian group Rebolu and a jazz jam with Benitez on Sunday.