By: Leah Uko
OMAHA (KPTM) – Members of Omaha City Council want an Old Market restaurant's retail liquor license revoked due to overwhelming incident reports filed by the police.
Council member Ben Gray said Tuesday, Maria Sangria failed to comply with laws and ordinances related to the request for a retail liquor license.
The City Council Law Committee also stated the owner, Maria Scalise, failed to offer any plan to assist the council in finding ways to stop the disruptive behavior of the restaurant's customers.
From March through July police were called to the business, located at the corner of 11th and Farnam st., to disperse crowds that were lingering, fighting or disrupting the area in other obstructive ways.
One occurrence on March 2nd around 2 a.m., police reports stated, a woman hit an officer.
On May 19th around 1 a.m., police reports stated, nine cruisers and 17 officers had to control a crowd of up to 150 people in the street and surrounding areas. It also stated that two groups of men were fighting.
But all except one of the incidents occurred outside the restaurant either across the street in the parking lot or near a park on 11th and Farnam st. Scalise's son, Robert Scalise, told FOX 42 News that neighboring restaurant's and Gray were singling out Maria Sangria and blaming it for a problem that has existed in that area years before the restaurant opened last year.
"No body has even been hurt inside or immediately outside," Scalise said. "But because there's a large gathering they call it a disturbance—a nuisance."
Prior to Maria Sangria's opening, the building was called Denim and Diamonds. It was under different ownership. There were numerous disturbances at the nightclub. One resulted in a person being shot and killed near the parking lot.
"I think it's just like this area right here," Scalise pointed down 11th street. "The police are, you know, a block and a half right there, you know they stand up there the whole time. In the main old market."
Brandon Henery with Michael's Cantina, which is next door to Maria Sangria, said the building's design is flawed. He explained that the building is too narrow and has three floors, which makes it difficult for servers and guests to maneuver through the restaurant. He said he's seen almost every previous renter attempt to run the business as a restaurant, but fail and start throwing lounge and club type events.
"As to whether or not they're [disturbances] coming from Maria Sangria, I can't speak to that," Henery, who is the general manager at Michael's Cantina, said.
He added that he felt the city needed to do more about enforcing the curfew at the Heartland of America Park across the street. He said often times 12, 13 and 14-year-olds come from the area looking for trouble.
"And you're scratching your head going—it's 11 o'clock or 11:30 in The Old Market. What are all these kids doing out here?"
Henery and Scalise agreed the disturbances were affecting business and giving The Old Market a bad reputation.
City Council will decide whether or not to cancel Maria Sangria's liquor license next Tuesday.
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