If you walk by El Mercado Urbano, La Urbana’s bar known for its mezcal and tacos, you’ll notice that something is different. The garage door that's usually open to create a patio-like atmosphere is closed in spite of the warm weather, though the garage space remains open to patrons.
“Doors are closed at the moment,” said the restaurant’s manager, Lula Tilahun. “We are working on a new upgraded bar design.”
According to Gina Simi of the Planning Department, the restaurant is also being investigated for a complaint, one made by a person who has complained about the restaurant before (that complaint was closed when the department found it not to be true).
In an email, Simi wrote:
The first complaint on 8/10/15 stated that El Mercado was operating as a bar and not a restaurant. We closed out that complaint following the first site visit on 8/14/15 as we found that they were operating as a restaurant as they are required to do per their liquor license. 8/27/15 the complainant called again claiming that La Urbana and El Mercado are operating as two completely separate businesses. Meaning, they each had separate staff, menus and management that do not overlap in any way.
If the restaurants are two entirely separate businesses, that could cause complications with its food permit and liquor license. The Planning Department has met with the architect to discuss evidence that the bar and restaurant are of one establishment. However, Simi stated that she could not comment further as the case has not yet closed. It's unclear whether the complaint comes from the individual behind the Grove Residents' Rights Resource, which has rallied against La Urbana in the past.
When asked about the complaint, a representative of La Urbana said, “This is something that’s absolutely not true. We are one business.”
While she did say the bar is simplifying the way it does business, she emphasized that the garage door is closed as the restaurant redesigns its bar, an improvement she calls “great news.”
Details on the redesign are yet to come. The restaurant projects that the garage door will be reopened in one or two months.
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