Omaha City Council Sets Hearing For Troubled Restaurant

The Omaha City Council voted to schedule a hearing for next week to determine if the Liquor License for Maria Sangria Restaurant in the Old Market should be canceled.

The Omaha Police Dept. went before the council and said activities near the restaurant have attracted criminal activity.

Supporters of the restaurant said the allegations are unfair. They asked that the hearing be set for a later date, to allow time for owners to prepare. Their request was denied.

According to Omaha Police, Maria Sangria Restaurant attracts crowds that engage in criminal activity and disturbances that require extensive police manpower.

Police plan to attend the hearing and present police reports of incidences that have occurred on and near the property. Officers will also testify at the hearing.

After the hearing, the council said they will look into and discuss the future certificate of occupancy of residence, using the evidence presented.

Supporters of the restaurant said they believe they are being singled out, and targeted because of the clientele that go to the restaurant, specifically that a majority of their customers are of color.

The restaurant owner and family refute the sentiment that criminals are their only clientele.

City Council Member Ben Gray said, "To assume that this is about race or anything else takes away what the facts are about these incidences. I have watched as people come out of the establishments approaching officers in unacceptable ways. The fact that police officers have to spend so much time on overtime in that area is an issue that this council needs to address."

He continued, "We've had a number of establishments where there has been a certain kind of music played and those places have caused issues across the city. Racism is alive and well in Omaha, and if you refuse that you are living in a dream world. But to apply that to this situation, is not true. This is not a situation that someone is telling me about, but the facts are there are issues that need to be addressed."

Other council members said they have seen officers denied entrance to the facility by employees.

Maria Sangria management said they are not aware of arrests on or inside the property. Supporters said the owner has kept video evidence and logs of what has happened near the property. They said they believe the hearing is unwarranted.

The restaurant requested the council look into reports of criminal activity at other establishments in the area to compare that to what has happened at Maria Sangria. The city council did not comment on this request.


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