Council Questions Incidents at Eatery

City Council members grilled the owners of a High Street restaurant this week, trying to determine why the police were called out nine times in three months to quell disturbances.

But Javier Hernandez, who owns El Rodeo Restaurant at 79 High St., and his business partner, Jose Espinoza, said the city is unfairly blaming the business for trouble in the surrounding neighborhood.

The problems occurred after El Rodeo was permitted in August to expand its alcohol services and operate as a nightclub.

“There’s similar incidents occurring at other restaurants and he’s feeling like he’s being unfairly attacked,” said Vickie Perez, the wife of Councilman Bernardo Perez, who acted as an interpreter for Hernandez.


According to police reports, the nine calls resulted in four arrests: three for alleged public drunkenness and one for an unrelated outstanding warrant.

Hernandez said that, in most cases, the people who were arrested had entered his premises intoxicated.

The restaurant’s liquor license permits the sale of beer and wine only. Other nearby restaurants, such as Chuys on Los Angeles Avenue and La Playita, across the street from El Rodeo, also serve alcohol.

Although the council took no action, its members expressed concern.


“The facts alone can’t be refuted,” Mayor Patrick Hunter said at the council’s Wednesday night meeting. “I am concerned there is a great escalation of violence and it needs to be stopped.”

Besides discussing the police reports, council learned that an Oct. 28 sheriff’s deputy’s visit to the restaurant revealed violations of its conditional use permit relating to crime prevention.

Councilman Chris Evans said the owner needs to follow the sheriff’s crime-prevention suggestions.

Espinoza said the restaurant has followed the sheriff’s advice and hired security guards.


“We want you to be successful,” Evans said, “but I agree with the mayor that this is a lot of incidents in a short period of time.”