Liquor permit hearing held on West Hartford establishment - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Liquor permit hearing held on West Hartford establishment

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Ernesto Leon, who is the owner of Los Imperios, was in the hot seat on Thursday. (WFSB) Ernesto Leon, who is the owner of Los Imperios, was in the hot seat on Thursday. (WFSB)

A contentious hearing was held on Thursday at the Liquor Control Commission to discuss the future of a West Hartford establishment’s liquor license.

It is supposed to be a family restaurant, but the town, police, and people who live in West Hartford said Los Imperios has been a nightclub since day one.

People, who live near Los Imperios, said they are angry, to say the least. They added it’s disrupted their lives for years and feel it’s a nuisance and danger to the community.

 “We promote businesses,” West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor said. “We like vibrancy but this has crossed a line.”

The town is fed up and so are police.

“I had to walk outside and complete an obstacle course of broken bottles, used condoms, used tampons,” West Hartford Acting Chief of Police Daniel Coppinger said. “You name it.”

Thursday was the residents turn to voice their concerns about Los Imperios restaurant and lounge. A number of neighbors made their case to the Liquor Control Commission that their liquor permit should not be renewed.

 “We’re at the point where we don’t leave our homes alone because of safety concerns,” Melinda Montovani, who lives in the neighborhood, said. “People are urinating on our lawns and bushes, breaking bottles in front of our homes.”

Some pictures presented on Thursday showing the aftermath of a night out at Los Imperios. The pictures showed everything from bottles of alcohol and cigarettes to red cups and broken glass. People said they’re woken up at night with blaring music, fights, and even gunshots.

 “Do you in any way feel responsible for what’s happening in our community? I believe that we’re trying the best and the hardest to work with the community,” Montovani said.

Ernesto Leon, who is the owner of Los Imperios, was in the hot seat on Thursday. Leon defended his business saying they do serve food and have three menus. He added that bad publicity has painted a false portrayal.

“I have eight security guards, valet parking,” Leon said. “We have the security guards do more than what they’re supposed to be doing walking around the corner and trying to help police and disperse the crowd.”

In the past year, there have been 15 complaints with violence inside and outside the lounge including two shootings.

There were 17 DUI arrests that have occurred outside Los Imperios.

Police have placed two officers there to maintain order to the tune of nearly $90,000. A bill Leon hasn’t paid.

Their entertainment license was revoked on Aug. 31, but since then they’ve been providing a disc jockey in defiance of that suspension.

“When Mr. Leon opened up this business in West Hartford, what he told the town of West Hartford that he was opening up a family restaurant,” Coppinger said. “Well, this is no family restaurant.”

By law, the Liquor Control Commission now has 90 days from Thursday to make their decision on the liquor license.

Leon is also facing eviction after failing to pay rent since April. Earlier this week, he did agree to a court-ordered plan to pay back that money.

Stay with Eyewitness News for updates.

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