EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – El Paso law enforcement agencies gave 27 quotes and violations to businesses in the Cincinnati entertainment district after opening their doors in late 2020.
In an area usually known for social gatherings and nightly bar hopping, pandemic-related regulations forced businesses to close early and limit capacity.
El Paso law enforcement officers regularly checked business as guests returned to the once bustling facilities in Cincinnati’s entertainment district. While patrons were able to return to some aspect of normal amid the pandemic, companies were told to heed the city and county emergency orders.
Warnings and quotes came mostly between October and December when businesses across the city closed for months.
Frank Ricci, the owner of Rockin ‘Cigar Bar and Grill, said while the area received many quotes, he didn’t feel they were being attacked by law enforcement.
“I think the area itself has always been viewed as an entertainment area by the TABC and El Paso Police too, and of course this is where the bars are,” said Ricci.
El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego has still not given the go-ahead for bars to open as the hospitalization rate in El Paso remains above 15%. However, bars were allowed to open as long as they were switched to a food and beverage license and most food sales came from grocery sales rather than alcohol.
Data from the Texas Secretary of State shows that converted bars and restaurants across the county generated $ 7.6 million in mixed drink revenues.
It was a big improvement on the much more humble $ 379,166 they all gave up in April. For business owners, however, the business came at a cost.
In the Cincinnati area, companies have been cautioned and quoted for failing to wear masks, social distancing, low headcount, and violating area emergency laws:
- El Profe – 11 quotes and warnings for open after hours and without a face mask
- The Palomino Tavern – 4 quotes and warnings for operating without TABC, no headcount, no social distancing
- Rockin ‘Cigar Bar – 5 quotes and warnings about missing mask and violations of the Emergency Ordinance
- Champagne Villain – 5 Quotes and Warnings for Leaving a Client Outside with a Bottle and Social Distancing, Emergency Ordinance Violation
- Good Times 2626 – violation of the order of stay at home
“As much as we want to get back to normal, we can’t and it’s a little difficult,” said Ricci.
As KTSM previously reportedIn early January, then-Mayor Dee Margo changed the city’s emergency policy on Saturday afternoon to allow restaurants to operate after 10 p.m. on Governor Abbott’s orders.
The directive would allow bars that have worked with food trucks or kitchens open until the food trucks close or close at 2 a.m., whichever comes first.
But now with fewer restrictions, it is up to customers to keep the bar doors open by following the instructions of the Emergency Ordinance, which further limit corporate capacity, enforce masks, and social distancing.
“It seems to be a little looser, a little, not crazy, but it seems to be a little looser. People think we are going back to our normal lives,” said Ricci.
The Kern Place Neighborhood Association issued a statement to KTSM 9 News that past problems were caused by businesses outside of Cincinnati Avenue. And said, “The attitudes, actions and inaction of these other facilities are obvious forms of disrespect for the residents of Kern Place.”
The Kern Place Association said it supports the police and TABC presence to better enforce applicable laws and regulations to help mitigate the negative impact they believe bar patrons are having on residents of nearby Kern Place.
Companies whose owners have lived in Kern Place (Palomino Tavern, Ardovinos Pizza, Crave, G2, Fool’s Gold) understand our problems, seem to abide by laws and regulations, and have even helped hire off duty cops to help the public Areas to patrol and our neighborhood. Historically, the area’s problems with the other facilities have been on and around the 200 block of Cincinnati Avenue. The attitudes, actions, and non-actions of these other facilities are obvious forms of disrespect for the residents of Kern Place.
Kern Place Association
The Kern Place Association said it also conducted a survey of approximately 300 residents that found 53% of responses from those living within a quarter of a mile of the Cincinnati Entertainment District said it was a “public nuisance.”
Ricci said he noticed more violence in the area, as KTSM reported Police responded to a sting in the area last week.