Latinos Seeking Liquor Licences Charge Discrimination

A Liquor store in Queens (Photo from EDLP)

Some Latino business owners in Queens have accused their local community board of discriminating against them when they applied for liquor licenses. Below is a translation of an article in Spanish of an El Diario La Prensa

Some Latino business owners in Queens have complained that they feel discriminated against by Community Board 3 when they apply for licenses to sell alcohol.

“It’s a lie that the community board helps people,” said José Palaguachi, owner of the restaurant El Patio Tropical. He was referring to a recent article published in El Diario that included advice to business owners seeking liquor licenses in Community District 3, a heavily commercial area that includes Elmhurst, Corona, and Jackson Heights. [In the article, sources said that the license application process is not complicated, and that business owners do not need to hire intermediaries or expeditors.]

“At the meeting required to approve the documents, you feel rejected simply for being Latino. You have to fill out the documents and do the interview in English, and they don’t take the time to help you,” said Palaguachi. He recently had to close down his restaurant, he said, because “The board delays the process for renewing the license by a lot.”

Other business owners had complaints similar to Palaguachi’s. Among them is María Carchi, the owner of the restaurant Las Serranitas, at 100-11 37th Avenue; John Rojas, owner of La Troncaleña, located at 53-21 Roosevelt Avenue; and Jaime Avila, owner of the Picantería y Bar 12 de Abril, located at 98-53 Roosevelt Avenue in Corona.

Enrique Lugo, who represents the business owners, accused members of the community board of “hostility, aggressiveness, prejudice, favoritism, and abuse” against Latino restaurant owners.

Giovanna Reid, the chairwoman of Community Board 3, said that the board doesn’t make the rules; the New York State Liquor Authority does.

“Our job is to represent all of the communities within our jurisdiction,” said Reid. “We have Latino members, and when the applicants don’t understand something, it is explained to them. They aren’t treated badly.”

Reid said she felt “disappointed” that people feel otherwise, and “upset” by the accusations of discrimination.

Valeria Treves, executive director of a pro-immigrant organization in Jackson Heights, the New Immigrant Community Empowerment, said she wasn’t surprised by the accusations.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” said Treves. “We recognize the need to introduce new perspectives, and for the board to be more accessible to all groups in this community, including the already established and newer waves of immigrants.”

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