Judge Orders Los Imperios Manager To Pay Back $76,000 Police Detail Fees

A judge has ordered the manager of the embattled Los Imperios Restaurant to pay West Hartford Police roughly $76,000 for a police detail that began in late June.

The two-officer detail was put in place after police said the restaurant had violated the town’s entertainment ordinance and did not provide the department with a security plan, a condition of the restaurant’s entertainment license with the town. That entertainment license has since been revoked.

The officers have patrolled the area of the restaurant since June at a cost of roughly $1,360 a night. The costs so far have been covered by the town; officials say Leon owes about $85,000.

Hartford Superior Court Judge Robert B. Shapiro, in his five-page court order, also said Los Imperios must to pay $250 per day in penalties if manager Ernesto Leon violates town ordinances after Nov. 30, that it must discontinue DJ or live music performances until the town issues the restaurant a new entertainment license and that it must stop operating as a bar, nightclub or dance hall.

Shapiro said that if Los Imperios doesn’t comply with the court order, police are authorized to close the restaurant for the rest of a business day on which it violates the order.

Shapiro’s court order also requires that the property owner and landlord, LISARAJ LLC, restrict any future tenant from operating as a bar, nightclub or dance hall.

Assistant Police Chief Robert McCue said the court order is welcome news. “We believe this will address the problems that are occurring in the neighborhood,” he said in an email.

The attorney who has represented Los Imperios since last year, Rodvald Jones, did not return a phone call requesting comment. Leon also did not return a call.

The order comes less than a week after Leon defended his restaurant at a hearing on revoking his liquor license and about two weeks since he agreed with his landlord to leave the Farmington Avenue space in March, should he make the next four rent payments.

Last Thursday, the Department of Consumer Protection’s liquor control commission held a hearing on the permit, called a remonstrance hearing, after roughly 60 West Hartford residents living in the neighborhoods surrounding the restaurant petitioned the state. Only 10 signatures are required for the commission to host a remonstrance hearing on a liquor permit.

Residents and police described chaotic weekend nights they have experienced since 2014 when Los Imperios took over the space from the former tenant, Shish Lounge. The liquor control commission has not ruled on Leon’s permit. A liquor control agent who reviewed the residents’ petition and investigated the complaints against the restaurant said before last week’s hearing that, aside from the hearing, there was no reason to revoke Leon’s liquor permit.

LISARAJ, LLC filed eviction paperwork on the restaurant this fall for failure to pay rent since April, indicating Leon owed about $38,000 in back rent.

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