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February 21, 1997     Cape Gazette
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February 21, 1997
 

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14 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, February 21- February 27, 1997 Rehoboth slaps Dos Locos' owner's wrist for unauthorized expansion By Trish Vernon If the Rehoboth Beach restau- rant community didn't know the city's Board of Commissioners doesn't take its power to regulate them lightly, it became abundant- ly clear on Feb. 14. Patricia Whittier, owner of Dos Locos, a Mexican restaurant at 42 1/2 Baltimore Avenue, came be- fore the board on that date, seek- ing a certificate of compliance to expand her seating capacity, a cer- tificate she must have before ap- proaching the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission to prove she meets with city ordinances before permission can be granted. Whittier sought to expand her 25-square foot service bar into a 145-square foot bar with eight seats, which would then comprise 35.7 percent of the entire 1,336 square feet of the premises. She also sought to add 9 seats in the dining area, for a total of 46, and 6 seats on the patio. The original food to liquor service ratio was placed at 80 and 20 percent re- spectively, but in the request for expansion, refigured at 75 and 25 percent. During her report on the re- quest, Building Inspector Susan Frederick told the board that Dos Locos does not meet the require- ments for bathrooms and that a new entrance in the converted beach house would be needed to meet present handicap accessibili- ty regulations, should a certificate be issued. Whittier's request soon hit a stumbling block; as she was ques- tioned as to whether she had al- ready been seating people at the service bar, which isn't allowed under her original certificate of compliance, issued a couple of years ago, which allowed her to serve liquor at the restaurant. She informed the city in a letter addressed Feb. 10 that people were seated at anywhere from five to eight seats at the service bar this summer when the restaurant was full and the patrons didn't mind being seated there. The city was also informed that she was un- aware this was considered a sub- stantial modification of the floor plan, as it constituted less than 25 percent of the space and the code allows a bar to take up 25 percent 1997 International Women's Day Dinner Main Street Continued from page 13 ton Chamber of Commerce decid- ing not to disband, and to work to re-establish itself as an integral part of supporting and promoting the town and its businesses. Meet- ing the night before the Main Street board of directors met, chamber board members raised the possibility of sharing space and working cooperatively with Main Street. In the informal board poll be- fore the vote to disband, Main Street board members also spoke of the advantage of some sort of alliance with the chamber. Hop- of the floor space or a minimum of 350 square feet. "She felt authorized and I ex- plained to her that the city allows this, but is not required to allow it, and when she was made aware, she filed an application for addi- tional seating," the letter from her attorney cited, noting she rescind- ed her original application which was filed a couple of months ago. "As unfortunate as the mistake was, it didn't impact the neighbor- hood," Whittier's attorney, Doug Marshall, told the board. Noting she wasn't aware of any com- plaints about the restaurant opera- tion, noise or otherwise, Whittier noted she served a significant number of dinners at the service bar, as singles feel more comfort- able there. "I'm just asking your help in placing my restaurant in compliance and let me do what I did last year," she said, adding that she generally closes at 10 p.m., and a bit later on weekends, with most neighbors informing her they aren't opposed to her re- quest. Commissioner Jack Hyde re- minded Whittier that when she fast came before the board in her quest for a liquor license, she told them there would be no bar stools, nor entertainment, questioning her claim that she was unaware of that modifying the floor plan placed her outside compliance. Hyde also reminded her that when she went to the ABCC for a liquor license, she changed the es- timated food/liquor service ratio from 80 and 20 percent to 70 and 30 percent, to which she replied that having never had a license, these were just that - estimates. She was also reminded that she could be cited for every day she maintained the bar stools, as they are a violation, to which Marshall replied that "there was no devi- ousness on her part." "It's hard to believe she could modify without consulting us and the ABCC," Hyde continued, not- ing that now she wants to provide entertainment. Commissioner Jan Konesey told Whittier that in a city that fo- cuses on restaurants that serve al- cohol, it's her responsibility to know the laws, terming her claim that she didn't "incomprehensible. kins said she could see joining with the chamber and working with a combined group of volun- teers. She suggested meeting with the chamber board to discuss possibil- ities. Baxendell said that she had reservations about the chamber, but she could see potential for starting with new officers and new programs. "I'd like to see us all work to- gether, maybe combine under the Chamber of Commerce," she said. "I'd like to see a group where all are welcome. The money [groups might have] is not as important as us all working together." Jay Dunlap also sPOke in favor of attempting to work jointly with She says one thing and does what she wants - I don't have a lot of faith, as it's only Susan's [Freder- ick] job to guide her. I'm appalled she didn't know the laws." Marshall replied that he doubted his client would consciously risk a $100 fine if cited by the city for violating the code. "She wants to rectify it - the seating worked, she wasn't aware and she wants to in- crease business," he stated. Commissioner Kenny Vincent, who operates a bed and breakfast across the street from Dos Locos, said on the subject of entertain- ment, he complained about loud noise this past September, al- though not formally, noting there were bands playing in the after- noon and evening and he would consider it a detriment to the neighborhood if it continues. Marshall replied that there is no law against entertainment if it complies with the city's noise or- dinance. "You came before us for a li- cense for a narrow building that abuts a residence and said you wouldn't do this or that and turn around and 'innocently' do this or that," Konesey said. "Your credi- bility isn't one hundred percent." Hyde was reminding Whittier that the ordinance was adopted to prevent restaurants from trans- forming themselves into bars, when Commissioner Bitsy Cochran then came to Whittier's defense. "If we had a provision that said a business couldn't change or expand, I'd he stifled. She admits her mistake and I think she got the picture and will try hard - be a little gracious," she asked her fellow commissioners. But Konesey shot down Whitti- er's claim that her restaurant is still "evolving." "Do you call bands at 11 p.m. evolving?" "I like to provide entertainment as I have to compete with other restaurants. How can you say I can't when everyone else is al- lowed. I'm in a commercial dis- trict and I'm a good neighbor, not a chronic noise problem. I close the windows at 10 p.m. to diffuse the noise." Attorney Wayne Marvel, on be- half of his clients Ray and Bertha Pusey, who live part-time in the house next to Dos Locos, told the the chamber. He said, "We could work on the idea that if we have people who are interested in certain things, let them work on those things. ''We need to get the public in- terest, that's the most important thing." However, when all else was said and done, Carol Boyd-Heron spoke in favor of disbanding, fol- lowed by Tony Boyd-Heron, who then put his opinion into a motion which passed. It was left to Post, as president, and Jay Dunlap, as treasurer, to notify the state Main Street Center office to determine the necessary steps to formally disband and dis- tribute the remaining funds. board he didn't believe Whittier demonstrated the criteria neces- sary to be issued a certificate of compliance. Referring to the min- utes of the meeting at which her original certificate was granted, Marvel said Whittier was on record as stating she didn't want to operate a bar and that entertain- ment wasn't on her agenda. "Now she decides she wants to he a bar and have entertainment." Marvel cited inconsistencies in past correspondence Whittier has had with officials on proposed floor plan modifications and changes in her estimated food/liquor ratios with each appli- cation. Ray Pusey said problems have escalated with Dos Locos, includ- ing having their driveway blocked with trash and bicycles and enter- tainment on one instance so loud he couldn't watch television, adding that as he doesn't have" a great deal of confidence in police enforcement," he didn't file a complaint. Hyde made a motion that the re- quest be denied on the grounds that it could have an adverse ef- fect on neighboring properties with regard to traffic and noise, giving Whittier the benefit of the doubt on the charges of false rep- resentation. Sargent, Konesey and Mayor Sam Cooper voted with Hyde to deny the request, with Cochran and Commissioner Betty Ann Kane voting to grant it. Vincent abstained. Before casting his vote, Cooper noted that he found the pattern disturbing, whether done innocently or not. "I have a concern it's headed in the direction of a bar. The board also entertained a re- quest for a permit of compliance that evening from Ted Gollicker, owner of Catcher's Restaurant at 249 Rehoboth Avenue. He pro- Continued on page 15 Boscov 's, l00ch Council Wed., 6p.n00 Rehoboth Beach Country Club For Reservations call 856-5400, ExL 204