Featured Story

Riverhead’s Royal Dorado, site of assaults, surrenders liquor license

Royal Dorado

A controversial Riverhead bar that was the site of two violent assaults last month has surrendered its liquor license after nine separate charges were brought against the establishment by the state’s liquor authority, according to Riverhead Town police.

Police and investigators from the New York State Liquor Authority conducted a “compliance inspection” at the Royal Dorado Deli & Restaurant on East Main Street after the assaults, the latest in a series of violent incidents at the restaurant, according to a police press release

Those two incidents last month had town officials calling for the revocation of its liquor license, with Town Supervisor Sean Walter calling the business a “scourge on our society.”

On Aug. 22, a man suffered a cut on his hand after a fight at the bar. Less than a week later, 21-year-old Jahir Luna-Martinez of Calverton was arrested and charged with felony assault after he beat another man at the bar with a belt buckle, police said.

“The bottom line is that over the course of the past year or so Royal Dorado … wasn’t running a good safe business,” Mr. Walter said in an interview Monday. “The incidents were escalating.”

During the inspection on Sept. 3, the SLA agents reportedly found two unlicensed bouncers and town police and a fire marshal found multiple violations, according to a SLA spokesperson.

According to a notice detailing the charges filed against D.A.P. Inc. on Monday, the corporation running the restaurant, the business allowed the premises to “become disorderly” on three separate occasions on the dates of the violent incidents, in violation of the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Law.

Three other charges accused the restaurant’s managers of failing to “exercise adequate supervision” of the property, “becoming a focal point for police attention” and having a negative impact on the surrounding area before, and on, the night of the second assault.

The restaurant had previously been shut down last over a zoning technicality after multiple violent incidents, and was reopened in September of that year.

On March 1, 2016, the SLA fined the business $8,500 for seven violations, including for a July 25, 2015 brawl in the restaurant’s parking lot and a stabbing and assault on Aug. 1, 2015, according to police.

“In imposing the fine, the SLA put the owner on notice that subsequent violations would lead to the revocation of the license,” police noted in a press release.

The final three charges filed against the Royal Dorado Monday claim the restaurant’s owners violated a previous court offer, in which the owners agreed to follow certain stipulations. The SLA argued in the notice that the violations were severe enough to warrant revoking the bar’s liquor license.

According to SLA representative Bill Crowley, the restaurant’s liquor license is now terminated and the surrender cannot be appealed. However, the restaurant will still face the charges and could be slapped with fines or other civil penalties.

“They still have to answer for those,” he said. Additional charges related to the unlicensed bouncers discovered during the Sept. 3 investigation are also expected to be filed, he added.

Mr. Walter thanked the SLA for working with local authorities and praised its agents for putting pressure on the restaurant to turn over its liquor license.

“Working together, we were able to take a situation that seemed to getting worse and worse as the months progressed and shut it down,” he said. “Hopefully that’ll be a lesson to other bad actors that may want to come to Riverhead and open an establishment and not play by the rules.”

Photo credit: Barbaraellen Koch

[email protected]