Police: Bars violated days-old restrictions

Officers conduct compliance checks at two night spots


SOUTH RIVER – Police cited two borough bars for allegedly violating new conditions imposed on their liquor licenses.

The borough placed restrictions on both the El Tenampa Bar, Jackson Street, and the Acapulco Tropicana Bar, Prospect Street, in order to quell problems at the two establishments. The new rules, such as earlier closing time and the hiring of security personnel, went into effect July 1, and officials said both bars have since broken some of them.

Police issued a summons to the El Tenampa Bar after conducting a premise check at 1:05 a.m. July 14 to ensure that the business was in compliance with the restrictions. Despite the new requirement that the bar close at 1 a.m., rather than the standard time of 2 a.m., police found an El Tenampa patron consuming an alcoholic beverage after hours.

At 12:07 a.m. July 11, police issued a summons to the Acapulco Tropicana Bar, after checking the premises. A patrolman entered the establishment and allegedly observed an underage female patron consuming alcohol. The patron was asked to leave the bar after failing to produce identification, and a summons was issued to the bar owner.

Another patrolman issued a summons to the owner of the Acapulco Tropicana at 12:12 a.m. July 3 after observing an alleged violation of a restriction calling for the establishment to stop playing music at midnight. While conducting a check to ensure compliance, a police officer parked in front of the main entrance and heard music coming from inside the establishment. Police had the DJ stop playing music.

Police conducted a check of El Tenampa at 12:12 a.m. July 4, finding the business allegedly in violation of another restriction. The business had yet to employ a state-certified security guard. However, police did not issue a summons, instead giving a warning. When conducting another check at 12:10 a.m. July 5, police found that the bar was still in violation of the same restriction. While a security guard was on duty when police arrived at the establishment, the guard was not trained and registered by the New Jersey State Police.

The new restrictions were added to the liquor licenses of the two establishments after police found that the businesses were generating a high call volume of complaints over the past year. The calls reported people urinating in public and loitering, and reports of loud music and intoxicated patrons. In addition, there have also been rescue squad calls and physical altercations, one of which resulted in injuries to a responding police officer during a July 2007 incident at El Tenampa. The police officer who was reportedly assaulted in that incident is still unable to return to duty due to his injuries.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported a man who was arrested at El Tenampa in June on charges of terroristic threats. ICE, the investigative branch of the Department of Homeland Security, also assisted borough police, county prosecutors and the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control with bar checks in the spring, when several violations were noted at the bars. People who are alleged to be members of the MS-13 street gang were removed from the Acapulco Tropicana Bar during one of the checks.

Mayor Raymond Eppinger said the council adopted stricter conditions for the businesses in order to assist the bar owners with achieving conformance to the law.

“The conditions we placed [on the businesses] were based on the recommendations of the police department,” Eppinger said. “We certainly want all businesses to be able to survive and thrive in town. We are hoping they want to work with the police, the town and their neighbors.”