With former neighbor Daiquiri Place Cafe shuttered after losing its liquor license last year, St. Charles Avenue's Santa Fe Tapas has absorbed the crowds Daiquiri Place once held, according to the New Orleans City Attorney's office, which has had the restaurant in its sights — and on the Alcohol Beverage Control Board's agenda — for most of 2013.
At an Oct. 15 hearing, the city attorney's office and Santa Fe Tapas owners were poised to come to terms on an agreement after Santa Fe faced "creating a public nuisance" and "permitting any disturbance of the peace" charges, with the establishment's liquor license on the bubble. Assistant City Attorney Dan McNamara said the bar's lingering issues with loiterers would go away if it agreed to ban go-cups.
"My position is that loitering is allowed because they're allowing people to get a go-cup," he said.
McNamara said the city's alleged attempt to rid bars of go-cups "couldn't be further from the truth."
"It's not a logical extension of what we do," he said, adding that in this particular case, a go-cup prohibition would prevent the "festival atmosphere" the bar creates when people loiter outside with drinks.
Board chairwoman Nyka Scott asked why go-cups are a point of concern for McNamara if the bar already has agreed to increasing security. David Halpern, an attorney representing Santa Fe, said the bar agreed to have security one night a week when it is at its busiest. Halpern said he didn't "recall go-cups being a sticking point" in his negotiations for a consent judgment with the city. "(Banning) go-cups doesn't solve loitering," Halpern said. "Personnel solves loitering."
Chef Matt Murphy of nearby The Irish House restaurant said loitering from Santa Fe blocks traffic and jams up St. Charles. When the bar's customers go outside, he added, Santa Fe's owners "have to take responsibility for what happens after that."
McNamara and Halpern agreed to a consent judgment that the restaurant will maintain security throughout the week when the restaurant is open; create a litter abatement program under which Santa Fe is responsible for trash pickup along St. Charles around the restaurant; and go-cups are allowed — as long as they're "professionally printed."
The agreement will appear on the January docket when the board reviews the recommendations. Halpern said the restaurant will implement the conditions of the consent judgment immediately. — ALEX WOODWARD