The large crowds that congregate at Thalia and St. Charles on the weekends have been an issue for the Alcohol Beverage Control Board for years, with neighboring businesses complaining of excessive noise, traffic congestion and littering. The former Daiquiri Place Cafe was placed under sanctions by the city as far back as 2007, and when the city took its alcohol license away in 2012, the owner blamed second-line goers for the problems.
After the Daiquiri Place Cafe shut down (its building has since become an expansion site for Crescent City Auction Galleries across the street), the city turned its attention in 2013 to Santa Fe Tapas, just across Thalia Street. Santa Fe owner Orhan Ergun said at the time he was focused on crafting a well-known vegan and vegetarian menu, and that the city’s charges were simply “guilt by association” for being located so close to the gathering spot the shuttered Jazz Daiquiri had created.
After months of negotiation, city attorneys crafted a “consent judgment” in October 2013 that would allow Santa Fe to continue operating under certain specific conditions: private security must be hired to handle the crowds, litter must be picked up, and go cups must be printed with the Santa Fe’s logo to discourage littering.
In September 2014, Santa Fe reappeared on the docket of the Alcohol Beverage Control board, charged with violating the October 2013 consent judgment, but no specifics were given. Subsequent alcohol-board meetings never described the city’s complaints against Santa Fe, but Deputy City Attorney Dan MacNamara and Santa Fe’s attorney David Halpern told the board for several months that they were preparing for a trial on the case.
Officials said in November that they had 17 witnesses prepared to testify but postponed the case once more, and at the Jan. 20 meeting of the alcohol board, MacNamara announced that a new agreement with Santa Fe had been reached instead.
Under the new agreement, Santa Fe’s license will be suspended for 30 days from March 23 to April 21. A number of other conditions also apply:
- The business may no longer offer “two for one” or “three for one” drink specials on Friday evenings, Saturdays or Sundays.
- The business must have a NOPD detail officer on duty on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
- All go cups must be clearly labeled with the Santa Fe Tapas logo, and they must not be distributed at all on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays.
- Santa Fe must arrange to have all trash left in the surrounding block picked up from the time it closes each night before 7 a.m. the next day.
- All the terms of the previous consent judgment are included.
- If Santa Fe is found to violate the new judgement, it faces a mandatory six-month suspension of its license.
As before, MacNamara did not describe in the Jan. 20 meeting the allegations of the previous agreement with the alcohol board, but noted that a number of witnesses had showed up for the hearing who would not need to testify as a result of the consent judgment.
“On behalf of the city, I want to thank all the witnesses who came and have been coming repeatedly on this case for their time and for their patience on the resolution of this matter,” MacNamara said.
Halpern made no comment on the consent judgment either, except to thank the board after the hearing concluded. Santa Fe’s owner, Ergun, declined to discuss the decision in a phone call afterward.