If we could be certain that Sin Fronteras (which in English sounds ominous but in Spanish means “without borders”) would be good for Weston, nobody would oppose licensing it. As we can’t be sure, we must ask whether Sin Fronteras will be worse than the alternatives—and the alternatives are bad indeed. They are the illegal and unlicensed ‘booze cans’, which have been a source of terrible violence and danger in Weston.
Your humble correspondent generally holds to the “keep your enemies closer” philosophy of public morality; he thinks that vices are best made legal and taxed to hell, if only because they otherwise disappear underground and spread. Sin Fronteras, by this principle, should be given a go and kept in the bright public view. After all, perhaps this will be the establishment that turns Jane into a new Latin Junction. Even if it likely won’t, there is only one way to tell.
Sensible people, though, disagree with this philosophy; Jennifer Cicchelli and Frances Nunziata are among them.
Jennifer Cicchelli, Frances Nunziata’s executive assistant, took the time to respond by email to yesterday’s post on the new Weston establishment applying for a liquor license. In her email, Cicchelli clarified their experience with managing troublesome businesses:
I was informed [by the AGCO] that while we have been told in the past that owners can take a suspension to avoid a hearing, and consequently avoid a review of their liquor licence, this information is not accurate. It was explained to me that whether there is a hearing or not, the licence is reviewed.
I would also like to clarify the comment I made regarding places opening up as restaurants and then operating as nightclubs. The AGCO is not responsible for enforcing the use of the premises as stipulated on their business licence – this is something the City is responsible for. When I wrote the email I did not intend to imply that all the issues I noted fall under the jurisdiction of the AGCO. What I was trying to convey was that, from our experience, problem establishments which are licenced to serve alcohol are not easier to “close down” than those that are serving alcohol without a licence. The AGCO itself does not have the authority to order an establishment to close down. They only have jurisdiction with respect to the serving of alcohol.
If these experiences are generally true, Sin Fronteras could turn out to be as bad as the alternatives, which is hard to imagine. If problem establishments are just as hard to shut down as unlicensed ones, it is very important to do the job right the first time, and to license those places that will not be a drag on an already labouring community. However, according to Cicchelli, the bar’s owner is not reaching out to the councillor’s office to make his intentions clear.