Update: ABC Hearing on Don Julio’s license

Dear Ocean Park Neighbors,

                After a grueling 3 1/2 hour hearing today at the ABC district office the hearing officer has decided to take some time and he will issue a written ruling at some point in the future.  The record for this hearing is still open and comments can still be sent in to the ABC agent concerning this matter.  I say this because, while 20 or so of our Ocean Park neighbors showed up today to oppose the request to lift the restrictions currently on the ABC license for Don Julios, I’m not sure this will be enough.  Numbers matter to these folks, and nothing has more impact than the written word.  While a lot of you have sent me e-mails opposing lifting these restrictions, it seems that letters still matter for this sort of thing.  I strongly encourage anyone who has an objection to lifting these restrictions to write your opposing view in a letter and send it to:

                Virginia ABC District Office

                1103 South Military Highway

                Chesapeake, VA 23320

                Attn: Agent Judith Carmen

                You don’t have to be articulate, you just have to give your opinion as to why these restrictions to the Don Julios ABC license should not be lifted, such as reduced property values, disturbance to the good order an peace in the neighborhood, incompatibility with the residential flavor of the surrounding area, the long and lurid past of that property and the negative impact a late night drinking establishment could have on the neighborhood, or the potential increase in drunks waling on shore drive late at night, to name a few reasons.  .

                Some folks who weren’t around in the bad old days have questioned why the civic league and some of your neighbors are so strenuously opposed to lifting the restrictions on Don Julios’ ABC license.  The current business on that property, Don Julios, has been a good neighbor and hasn’t had any problems.  It’s family restaurant with a fairly quiet atmosphere.  Well, the reason for that is that the restrictions on their license were put in place in the mid 90’s after a long string of questionable and shady establishment.  There were three shootings on the premises (For those of you who want to question this fact you might want to talk to Diana Mclemore, who has lived in the house behind the property for 30 years).  The final straw was the opening of “Lovely Ladies”, an adult dance club.  The dance club opened without an ABC license because they were sure it would not be a problem.  The license was issued by the local ABC office, but the Ocean Park residents had had enough and banded together to put a stop to this.  The civic league coordinated the opposition, and 5 bus loads of OP residents went up to Richmond for the appeal to the issuance of the license.  The appeal was successful and there were restrictions placed on the license to ensure the establishment on that premise would be a family style restaurant instead of a Bar.  The restrictions on the ABC license at that property did not come easily, but they have been successful in ensuring that we have a business on that property that is compatible with the area.  Since the restrictions have been put in place there have been a number of different establishment that have made a go on that property.  The problem is they all wanted to be bars and not restaurants, that is until La Fiesta opened there in the late 90’s.  Since then, we have had good neighbors on that property and have not had any problems.  So why would we want that to change. 

                The only reason for the current owner to want to have the restrictions lifted are so she can change the nature of the business that she does.  Having live entertainment and being open until 2:00 a.m. are not things that a family style restaurant needs to do to stay in business, but they are critical for a “Bar”.  When the current owner bought the corporation 3 years ago, she was well aware of the restrictions, and aware of the type of business she was buying.  Now, in her desire to increase business, she wants to potentially revert things back to the way they used to be.  Some of you have said you do not understand the OPCL position opposing lifting these restrictions, well here it is.  Why would we want to change, when the reason the restrictions were put in place originally have done everything they were intended to do. 

                As a community we have to decide what we want to do.  As I said, some folks showed up today at the hearing, but I don’t think that will be enough.  As I said, numbers count, and I don’t think enough residents who are opposed to this have let the ABC know of their opposition.  If you don’t want to see another late night drinking establishment in our area, speak up and send a letter to the ABC district office at the above address.  If you stay silent I feel we may get something we don’t want.

Rick Mercadante


Ocean Park Civic League



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