The city granted an entertainment license and a dance hall license to Bonfire Mofongo House and Lounge with the condition the nightclub address illegal parking and traffic obstruction in the vicinity of the establishment by adding extra security.
“We have 18 parking attendants. What we agreed to do is expand our parking attendants to go out to East 38th Street and anyone who is coming into the Bonfire we will tell them if they are parked illegally. We’re going to put them on notice,” said James Young, a Teaneck-based attorney, who represents the nightclub.
Young said the attendants will call police if needed to report illegal parking. Neighborhood residents have long complained the nightclub’s patrons block driveways and take up scarce parking spaces.
The nightclub is also in talks with police to secure one or two uniform police officers to patrol the vicinity of the establishment which sits on Market Street between East 38th and East 39th Streets, a heavy traffic area due to the proximity of the highways.
Council president William McKoy, who represents the 3rd Ward, where the popular nightclub is located, asked Young for a time frame of when the establishment would have uniform police patrol.
“We can do that within two weeks or a month,” said Young. The uniform police officer, whether one or two, will patrol the vicinity of the nightclub, issue tickets to violators, and handle the large crowd that spills outside at closing.
State law bars an alcohol serving establishment from having a police officer on premises, noted city law director Domenick Stampone. Instead, the establishment will have a patrol to handle the traffic obstruction and illegal parking that occurs outside of the business.
The nightclub also had a loud music problem which Young said has been addressed. He said the patio closes at 10 p.m. so as not to disturb neighborhood residents.
“We’ve taken steps to sound proof the inside,” said Young. While the council worked to address the quality of life problems in the neighborhood another issue emerged.
The establishment owes $150,000 in taxes to the city, said Edgard Bueno, the nightclub’s accountant, when McKoy inquired about the building’s tax status.
Bueno said the nightclub – HJN Bonfire LLC – does not own the building. He said HJN Properties LLC owns the building at 989-1003 Market Street.
“That’s going to be a challenge,” said a stunned McKoy. “It’s very difficult to do approvals with funds outstanding.”
“We have been paying real estate taxes. The taxes owed are from two or three years ago. Since we took over, we took the responsibility of paying taxes on time,” said Bueno.
Stampone said the city likely sold tax liens on the owed taxes.
Michael Jackson, 1st Ward councilman, who has a similar tax situation with his Jacksonville Restaurant on Grand Street, said there’s a “due process” to handle taxes. He thought there’s no relation between taxes owed and the entertainment, dance hall licenses.
Council members approved both the entertainment and the dance hall license for the nightclub on Tuesday night.