By John Lynds
While East Boston resident and restauranteur Raul Santos’ intentions of opening the third in a string of the locally successful King Tacos restaurants are good, some abutters at Monday’s Orient Heights Neighborhood Council meeting were wary of Santos’ intentions of having half the business being run as a function hall.
While most at Monday’s meeting welcomed Santos as a new business owner wanting to establish a new eatery in Orient Heights Square at the site of the soon-to-be defunct King Dragon restaurant and wished him luck– some abutters, including the Burris reminded Santos and his attorney, David Jacowitz, of the sordid history of the location.
A few years back, when Tequilas occupied the space and seem to hold a party every night in the downstairs function room, there was nothing but trouble.
On a regular basis there were fights, very loud music, police being called to the restaurant and the occasional stabbing.
Since John Lee took over two years ago as King Dragon, there has been peace in the square for residents as the restaurant was run primarily as a sit down, take out and delivery operation with very few functions. The functions that were held were low key affairs without the commotion that Tequilas once attracted.
Vice President of the OHNC Joseph Ruggiero argued that Santos’ other two King Tacos locations in Revere and Chelsea do not have function space and feared the owner could potentially be biting off more than he could chew.
“When business men come into East Boston and try to conquer too much things begin to suffer and here it is usually the residents,” said Ruggiero.
Many did not agree with Jacowitz’s assertion that Eastie needs more function space and felt Santos would serve the community better simply as a neighborhood restaurant. With function space like Spinelli’s, the VFW, Eastie’s two yacht clubs and church halls ready to serve the needs of residents wanting to hold a party, OHNC members felt a full-scale function hall may not be the right fit for the small business square.
“We are trying to move forward,” said one resident. “This is not Lansdowne Street, this is a family neighborhood so we really don’t want to see late night parties…we are trying to move away from that as a community.”
No one at the meeting opposed plans to open King Tacos and wished to see Mr. Santos establish himself as a good neighbor first before agreeing to the function hall aspect of his proposal.
City Councilor Sal LaMattina said he’d support the business with a proviso that Santos refrains from holding functions for three months so he and the neighborhood could begin to forge a relationship.
Jacowitz agreed to the condition and Santos agreed he, or another representative from King Tacos would attend regular OHNC meetings.
Jacowitz described the operation as a low-key family style restaurant. Jacowitz said Santos plans on buying Mr. Lee’s beer and wine license but will not seek a full liquor license.
“We want to be proactive,” said Jacowitz. “We understand the issues this location has had in the past so we want to hear from the community before moving forward.”
King Tacos will also operate at the same hours that have been set by the OHNC for King Dragon and that is 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday and 11:30 a.m. to Midnight Thursday-Saturday.