Embattled Apple Valley restaurant given another chance

After shutting down all liquor sales at Spoon Fusion Cuisine earlier this year following a host of police incidents and fire code violations, the Apple Valley City Council last week decided to grant the restaurant a conditional license to sell beer and wine.

The possibility that prohibiting alcohol sales at the restaurant at 14871 Granada Ave. could force the restaurant to shut down factored into the decision made by council members, who voted 3-2 in favor of the license at their March 29 meeting.

“Public safety is our No. 1 job, but it’s also important that businesses have the chance to thrive,” said Mayor Mary Hamann-Roland, who voted in favor of the license.

“This is a family business – a husband and a wife and a little child – and I’m sensitive to small-business owners who are trying to make their business work.”

In January, the council denied renewal of a liquor license for Spoon – a measure Spoon’s attorney said would likely cause the business to close – after the city’s top public safety officials detailed a host of troubling incidents at the restaurant, which husband and wife Van Ngo and Kav Theng took ownership of in 2011.

City police Chief Jon Rechtzigel reported to the council that, since May of 2011, police responded to at least eight incidents that occurred during “hip hop” and nightclub-type events at Spoon that were organized not by Spoon’s owners but by outside event producers.

At one such incident in October 2012, police responded to a riot-like scene involving 20-30 people and made several arrests.

Fire Chief Nealon Thompson noted a total of 27 fire code violations at Spoon in the past two years, among them obstructed exits and allowing crowds to exceed the maximum occupancy of the building.

Spoon attorney Daniel Le told the council last week that owners Ngo and Theng are working to build a positive relationship with city officials and to address the public safety issues that have been raised.

In a phone interview with Sun Thisweek, Hamann-Roland praised Le’s work as a “cultural bridge” between the council and the restaurant’s owners, for whom English is a second language.

Under the conditions of the beer and wine license granted last week, Spoon will be allowed to host private parties such as wedding celebrations but not nightclub-type  events.

Council members voting in favor of the beer and wine license were Hamann-Roland, Tom Goodwin and Ruth Grendahl; voting against were John Bergman and Clint Hooppaw.