Residents try to get bar shut down

July 29, 2008 4:23:32 PM PDT
Residents in one Spring Branch neighborhood are fighting to get a local bar shut down. They're hoping county officials agree with them. Neighbors want the doors at the El Torito sports bar to close for good and they're asking Harris County commissioners to deny the bar's request for a liquor license renewal.

Margaret Sauter's frustration is summed up in three words.

"Oh, the music," she said.

She is one of several neighbors in the Spring Oaks subdivision in Spring Branch banding together to shut down the El Torito sports bar. The bar faces Longpoint Drive and is just on the other side of Sauter's back yard fence.

"It's not just the music. It's the bass," she said. "Thump, thump, thump, thump. Every once in a while, when they change the tempo, we get a thumpity-thump, thumpity-thump. It's constant. I call police the police as early as 10:30pm to 4 or 5 in the morning."

There are other bars and restaurants selling alcohol along Longpoint. However, it's only El Torito, say officials, that gets complaints for being too rowdy.

"The noise issue and there was the suspicion that the El Torito was selling alcohol after business hours," said Mike Knox with the Spring Branch Management District.

The lawyer for the owner of El Torito declined our request for an interview. He did, however testify at a hearing for a liquor license within Harris County, saying the owner, Jesus Rodriguez, bought the bar this year and is not responsible for the actions of the past owner.

Regardless, one city official says the problems have been consistent.

"This is a bad neighbor, that he is not concerned with anything but himself, that he does not listen to the neighborhood," said Houston Councilmember Toni Lawrence.

When a decision is made, we'll let you know what it is.

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