Mayor Felix Roque and the West New York Town Commissioners will vote on an ordinance on Monday, Nov. 21 that would require any restaurant with a license to serve alcohol within 100 feet of any residence or condo within the “Controlled Waterfront Development District” to close by 11:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and midnight Friday and Saturday. This new district happens to only include two businesses: Son Cubano, a bar/restaurant, and a neighboring pizzeria, Lusso.
Son Cubano normally stays open until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and often has live music, which has been a source of complaints from residents of the nearby waterfront luxury buildings. Those complaints inspired Roque to propose the ordinance in May when he was elected as West New York’s new mayor.
“I have a son to put through college and a huge loan to pay back.” –Alex Duran
Duran told the Reporter on Tuesday that this ordinance will cause a 15 to 25 percent loss in revenue for his establishment, and will make it far more difficult to pay off the $2.4 million he and his brother sank into the business when they opened in December of 2005. He will still be able to serve customers, but will have to close earlier.
“I have a son to put through college and a huge loan to pay back,” Duran said. “This ordinance is a big, big mistake.”
Duran stated he believes it to be more than a coincidence that P.F. Chang’s is not in the district. He also stated that he requested an audience with Roque to discuss matters around 20 times, but received no response.
“I don’t think Roque has anything against me; I just think his inexperience has gotten him into trouble,” he said.
Duran appeared on Spanish radio 1380, WADO, on Sunday, Nov. 6 and said he has garnered a lot of support from the community as a result. He also has a website (www.supportscnj.com) where the ordinance is posted and visitors can sign a petition against it.
The residents in the neighboring Grandview apartment complexes have also spoken their views and posted videos at www.soncubanoneighbors.com, outlining their complaints and encouraging people to support the ordinance.
Neighborhood resident and attorney Doug Richards, who lives in Grandview I with his wife Patricia, said he believes that Son Cubano is in violation of a town ordinance that prohibits the existence of nightclubs in West New York. He said that if an establishment meets two of eight listed criteria, it qualifies as a night club.
Roque told the Reporter on Tuesday that residents complained about the establishment when he was campaigning, and it became “part of my campaign promise – to bring back the respect residents lost when Son Cubano came along.”
Roque said the restaurant used a “Trojan Horse” tactic by positing itself as a restaurant when it is more of a nightclub. But Duran stated he made it very clear there would be live music.
Roque said of Duran, “He’s a very nice guy. I hate to ruin his business. It’s not my intention. But I’m looking at the bigger picture and my interest lies with the residents.”
In response to Duran’s attempts to contact him, Roque said they were made after litigation had begun and that his attorney advised against it. He said he hopes to find a middle ground with Son Cubano, but through proper legal channels.
“I had to put my foot down and bring back the decency the community lost,” he said.
The ordinance will be voted on at a commissioners’ meeting this coming Monday, Nov. 21 at 6 p.m. at the West New York Middle School at 201 57th St.
Gennarose Pope may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org