The owners of two Totowa section bars say the expansion of business curfew to include a portion of Union Avenue will reduce their business and lead to layoffs.
The two businesses — El Fogon Restaurant and Boulevard Wine and Spirit – are located on Union Avenue between Redwood and Kearney Streets. The two late night businesses will be forced to close at midnight once the council gives final approval to an expansion of the hot spot ordinance to include the two-block portion of Union Avenue.
“We’re being targeted because of criminals on the street,” said Jose Munoz, manager at Boulevard Wine and Spirit. He said the city’s business curfew in other parts of the municipality has resulted in an influx of bad actors moving towards the quiet Totowa section.
“You cannot criminalize someone who works hard and long hours,” added Victor Gomez, owner of El Fogon Restaurant.
The two businesses like many bar owners before them are worried the midnight closing will reduce their revenue. Munoz said his bar even took preemptive steps after seeing the impact business curfew had on bars in other parts of the city by hiring two security guards to keep the vicinity of the business stable so as to avoid falling being added as a hot spot.
However, the preemptive actions did not work, the area deteriorated resulting in numerous quality of life complaints from residents forcing police brass to designate the two block as a hot spot zone.
The business owners also pointed to the economic impact a curfew will have on their businesses. Munoz said his business has 10 employees which will have to be reduced beginning with two cuts immediately.
“We have no blemishes in our business,” said Gomez who has been operating the restaurant for 19 years.
Gomez’s business may be unblemished, but that is not true about his neighbor. Boulevard Wine and Spirit received a 12-day liquor license suspension late last year for afterhours selling. The business was also found to have been shirking its duty to keep certain records as required by law.
In October 2014, there was also a shooting in the corner of Union Avenue and Jasper Street. The council gave preliminary approval to the expansion of the business curfew ordinance which will cover Union Avenue from Redwood Avenue to Kearney Street.
Council president William McKoy suggested the businesses arrange a meeting with police director Jerry Speziale to discuss their concerns. “We’ll take all of that in consideration,” he said after listening to their concerns.