Riverhead Town set to reject downtown bar application

Griffing Avenue, Downtown Riverhead, Rosa's Cafe
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The proposed Griffing Avenue tavern would not have a stove or oven to cook food, and would only be serving microwaved food.

The Riverhead Town Board may vote next Wednesday night to reject an application to put a new bar in downtown Riverhead after questions arose about the identity of the applicant and a prior downtown bar run by the applicant’s stepfather.

Rosa’s Cafe, owned by Roberto Marroquin of Coram, had submitted an application for a “tavern” in a rented space on 155 Griffing Avenue, doing business as Michelle’s Cafe.

At the Town Board’s work session Thursday, board members reviewed a draft resolution for next Wednesday’s formal meeting that would reject the Michelle’s Cafe application.

That meeting starts at 2 p.m. in Rivehead Town Hall.

During a Sept. 5 public hearing on the special permit application for the tavern, it was discovered that Mr. Marroquin’s full name is Roberto Carlos Marroquin Tejada, and that his stepfather is Luis Tejada, who ran the Crystal Bar in 2007 in a space next to Digger’s on West Main Street.

There were many incidents that drew police officers to Crystal Bar before it had closed.

An architectural drawing for the Michelle’s Cafe application on Griffing Avenue also listed Luis Tejada as the owner of the business and an application to the state liquor authority listed Luis Tejada as a vice president of the company.

“I’m concerned that he is not a straw man for Mr. Tejada and his Crystal Bar again,” Supervisor Sean Walter said at the time. “We’re already done the Crystal Barn and it was just not good results for the town.

“I have a concern about the Town Board painting too broad a brush here,” said Jonathan Brown, the attorney for Mr. Marroquin, at that hearing. “That the sins, whatever they are, of the father or the stepfather, not become the sins of the son.”

He added, “This is not a bar. This is 30 seats, a cafe, with an accessory use of alcohol, alcohol services. This is intended as a luncheon outfit. This is not the Crystal Bar.”

Another concern town officials had at the public hearing was Mr. Marroquin’s disclosure that they intended to serve only microwaved food at the tavern, and that it would not have a stove or oven for cooking.

Several speakers also raised oppositions to the proposed tavern, raising concerns that intoxicated people could present a danger to nearby employees and stating that downtown doesn’t need another bar.

The draft resolution rejecting the application cites the fact that the business would serve microwaved food and claims the applicant failed to show that the proposed business would not have the type of negative impact on downtown Riverhead that speakers at the Sept. 5 hearing claimed it would.

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