Ruling on Felipe's Delayed

Whether Felipe’s Taqueria will be able to keep its doors open until 4 a.m. on weekends will hang in the balance for yet another week after it faced potential disciplinary action at a general hearing of the Cambridge License Commission Tuesday night.

Under fire for selling burritos after the hours specified in his license, co-owner Thomas J. Brush pushed back his application to keep the restaurant open later until Dec. 5.

Brush accepted the advice of commission chairman Richard V. Scali, who said the disciplinary hearing for hours violations was a poor time to request later hours.

“[This is] not a good time to hear it since you haven’t abided by the previous hours,” Scali said. “The very night [the license investigator] came in, the 12th, to keep the doors open, you were open too late.”

Felipe’s’ current license allows the eatery to remain open until midnight on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends.

“I’m leaning to negative discipline, which is reprimand, suspension, or even revocation,” commissioner and Cambridge Fire Department deputy fire chief Captain Daniel J. Turner said.

Cambridge Police Department (CPD) officers testified that they closed Felipe’s well after the official closing hours twice during the week of Oct. 12.

On Oct. 14, chief license investigator Andrea M. Boyer found employees selling burritos out of white bins outdoors at 2:15 a.m. Patrons inside were seen as late as 2:25 a.m. CPD officers Juan Sanchez and Paul Callahan said that over their time walking the Harvard Square beat, Felipe’s had violated the terms of its license multiple times.

“In a number of occasions, I have observed the establishment open in violation of the 12 and 2 a.m. code,” said Callahan, who said he had given the proprietors several verbal warnings.

Brush said he had not understood the rules and would not stay open after hours in the future.

On Dec. 5, the commission will decide whether to act against Felipe’s and may hear its application to stay open well into the early morning. But Brush said he is not optimistic about the fate of extending the restaurant’s hours.

“I assume that they will deny our application for the extended hours and probably will perhaps take disciplinary action,” Brush said.

That the disciplinary hearing and application were concurrent was not lost on the councillors.

“It’d have been helpful if you’d abided by the rules in the beginning to get what you want,” Scali said.

Although the commission took no action, it discussed the possibility of extending the restaurant’s hours at length, if unfavorably.

Two representatives of the Harvard Square Defense Fund suggested that the commission consider taking strong action against Felipe’s and voiced their disapproval of extending its hours.

“During the course of complaints, they were warned and the staff went on serving. That is something you need to consider,” said Jinny Nathans, a member of the group.

Undergraduate Council liaison to the City of Cambridge Jeffrey Kwong ’08 countered with a student-centered view.

“I also want to stress that oftentimes, it is the students being belligerent and gathering out of hand, coming out of the dances or the parties they’re at, and they have nowhere else to go and they’re banging on the windows, almost breaking the windows. [Felipe’s] ha[s] no choice,” Kwong said, drawing laughs from onlookers in the chamber. “Life centers around Felipe’s at Harvard, and it’s a valuable choice,” Kwong said.

—Staff writer Samuel C. Scott can be reached at sscott@fas.harvard.edu.