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Restaurant at site of El Rodeo bar in Amityville must wait for cabaret license

The site of El Rodeo bar and restaurant

The site of El Rodeo bar and restaurant in Amityville in January 2013. A new restaurant, La Casa Restaurant, is planned for the site. Credit: Google

An Amityville restaurant occupying the former El Rodeo bar and restaurant will have to wait for a cabaret license, village trustees said last week, noting the location's troubled past.

"This location has a history, and we need assurance from you that that history won't continue," Mayor James Wandell told La Casa Restaurant owner Edgar Zurdo before a 5-0 vote March 23 to table the application for the license that's needed to play music at the restaurant.

"I want to make a nice restaurant there. I don't want a nightclub," Zurdo said, adding that he planned to hire security.

Amityville trustees also are attempting to mediate disputes between owners of businesses including Toomey's Tavern and Security Dodge and their neighbors who have complained of noise and nuisances.

But Wandell suggested La Casa, at 528 Broadway, may merit special attention. As El Rodeo, it was the scene of violent assaults including a stabbing, a shooting, and a beating that left a patron with slight brain damage, according to State Liquor Authority documents. Amityville police visited the site more than 80 times between 2010 and 2014, according to trustee Nick LaLota.

El Rodeo's liquor license was suspended in early 2014. La Casa's application for a liquor license was denied last month after the state authority found Zurdo did not have "necessary experience or a sufficient plan to properly supervise this business."

Zurdo had told authority members he did not intend to hire a manager but would oversee the restaurant himself from 5 p.m. to closing each day.

Liquor authority members also raised questions about the relationship between Zurdo and Edgar Reyes, one of El Rodeo's owners. Zurdo borrowed some of the money to open La Casa from the owner of a restaurant where Reyes once worked.

Amityville code enforcement officer Tom Whalen said last week he'd made several visits to La Casa and had seen Reyes at the restaurant. Zurdo said Reyes was only there to help in the transition and that Zurdo is the new restaurant's sole owner.

Wandell said the village board will likely take up La Casa's cabaret application again next week. Board members may offer a license valid for six months instead of a full year, a strategy the board sometimes uses to exert tighter control over a business' conduct, Wandell said.

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