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Close it Down

Any business that acts without regard for the safety of its patrons and neighbors forfeits the right to operate in Queens.

Businesses that serve alcohol must make certain that the drinks they sell do not get into the hands of children. Carding at the door is not enough. Today’s teenagers know how to get their hands on fake IDs.

In addition, bars are expected to do what they can to see that patrons do not become violent after one too many drinks. And bars and restaurants cannot allow their establishments to become gathering places for violent gangs, whether it be the Bloods, Crips, Latin Kings or some spin-offs.

That, according to some sources, is what was behind the recent violence outside the Casa Romana Bar and Restaurant in Sunnyside. In the brawl that took place outside the restaurant Aug. 28, 14 people were arrested, including the owners of Casa Romana, who were charged with creating a public nuisance. Two kids were stabbed and taken to the hospital.

At a rally held last week outside the restaurant, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and state Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan led an incensed group of about 50 local residents who demanded that the business be closed down. They were joined by two members of the local community board.

Participants at the rally said this is not the first time fights have spilled out of the bar onto the streets. Van Bramer called the violence unacceptable.

But forcing the bar to close may not be easy. Casa Romana was cited for serving a minor six months ago, but the charge was dismissed. What was clear from the rally, however, is the perception in the community that Casa Romana has become a nuisance.

Even a co-owner, William Nieves, concedes that the fight was gang-related. But he insists the event that day was chaperoned and no alcohol was served. That’s small consolation for a frightened neighborhood. Nieves should see the handwriting on the wall. The residents of Sunnyside are fed up with gang-related violence. They want the restaurant to close.

During the rally, the owners of Casa Romana put up a for-sale sign. Hopefully, Nieves is getting the message that his business is not welcome here.

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