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Future of Old Market restaurant to be decided on by City Council

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Photo: Video by kmtv.com

Future of Old Market restaurant to be decided on by City Council

By Josh Egbert. CREATED Aug 12, 2014

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV)- Scalise

Wild activity outside a restaurant and bar could keep the drinks from flowing inside a bar in the Old Market. It's the latest round in a battle over the future of Maria Sangria. Now, the owners say they're being singled out and targeted because of who comes in and eats.

The doors at Maria Sangria have been welcoming families in for a Spanish and Cuban experience fore more than a year. But those doors, could soon close.

"This business is a great edition to the Old Market, because it's the only place that offers Spanish and Cuban cuisine." Nicholas Scalise told Omaha City Council Tuesday afternoon.

City Council will vote next Tuesday on whether to cancel the restaurants liquor license and revoke their certificate of occupancy, which would force them to close.

"Based upon the information that's presented, the request by Omaha Police, that we have the evidentiary hearing in front of the council next week." said Councilman Chris Jerman, who represents the Old Market.

Omaha Police say the restaurant attracts a crowd that brings with it violence. But the owners say, they're being singled out and targeted.

"Maria adamently refuses the statements that her customer base is full of criminals, ready for criminal mischief, just because Maria Sangria's base customers is 60% mixed crowds of Latinos and African Americans does not mean they are criminals." Scalise told the council.

City Council member Ben Gray says that's not the case. In fact, it's far from it.

"To assume that that's what this case is, would be it would not reflect what the facts are." said Gray.

According to OPD, numerous reports of disturbances and assaults have occurred at Maria's. Something the restaurant denies.

Councilman Chris Jeram says that's the reason for the hearing. Saying it's about the safety of the Old Market and who goes down there to eat.

"When it comes to the Old Market, we have a precious resource, an environment in the city for families and family entertainment." said Jeram.

Maria Sangria was requesting more time before next week's hearing, but that was denied. The restaurant also requested council look into reports of criminal activity in other parts of the Old Market. They did not say if that would be done.