EBR board says Boil & Roux broke liquor rules, but fine equals what a permit costs
BATON ROUGE - The local Alcoholic Beverage Control Board ruled Thursday that the Boil & Roux restaurant broke the law during its Cinco de Mayo celebration last May. It imposed a $360 fine - an amount equal to the cost of a permit that the business neglected to obtain.
The business' owner, Maurice Walker, told the panel that he had had no trouble receiving permits for eight previous Cinco de Mayo parties at the restaurant and bar along Coursey Boulevard. Problems he had this year led him to suggest that a Metro Council member was biased against a Black-owned restaurant.
The restaurant was accused of operating without a permit to expand the area in which it served alcohol, failing to cooperate with enforcement agents, failing to maintain building and zoning codes and allowing the consumption of alcohol in a parking lot. A hearing over whether the restaurant violated building and zoning rules was delayed until January, to give the restaurant time to bring itself into compliance.
The board agreed that the restaurant didn't have a permit and imposed a $1,000 fine, but suspended all but $360 of it on the condition that Boil & Roux doesn't violate liquor ordinances for the next year. The panel rejected the other charges.
At a hearing, Walker showed the board correspondence that said Councilwoman Denise Amoroso would sign a permit in a timely manner, but that approval didn't come until the final day. He said that planning a Cinco de Mayo party requires an outlay of between $15,000 and $20,000.
When he finally received the permit, rather than allowing the party to continue into the night, he was under orders to shut it down by 8 p.m., he said under questioning by lawyer Ron Haley.
Board member Chase Tettleton questioned why approval for Boil & Roux came so late.
"I wish Councilman Amoroso was here to explain," he said. "It's a bad situation all around."
Residents who had previously filed noise complaints against the restaurant said at the meeting that they did not want to see Boil & Roux shut down, but rather comply with parish rules. Board chairman Brad Cranmer reminded the speakers that noise-related complaints were not on the agenda.
Under questioning from board member Walter McLaughlin, enforcement agents said that, at times, restaurants and bars have been allowed to hold events and then apply for, and pay for, the requisite permits afterward. Boil & Roux did not seek that option after the party continued past 8 p.m.
In late November, WBRZ News 2 reported that the owners of Boil & Roux believed they were being unfairly treated largely because of Amoroso's actions.
Walker said previously that the actions impacted the livelihoods of his family and workers. "It is the employees who work here. My bartenders, my hostesses, my servers."
Amoroso has said enforcement efforts have come in response to complaints, and that "all I want is for them to obey the law."
Thursday's meeting was moved to the Jones Creek branch of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library system to accommodate the expected crowd, which totaled about 40, not including board members, ABC staff and the media.
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