By Nadine Cafaro
The fridge outside Empanada Nirvana hasn’t been brought up in some time, but at a recent village board of trustees meeting, the topic got debated once again when the local restaurant applied for an outdoor cafe.
After a remedy violation order was sent out in October, there weren’t many updates on the fridge, which is filled every night with takeaway food for locals in need. However, even though Owner Nelson Pantoja had been in contact with the Orange County Department of Health about protocols, the fridge violates the Village of Walden’s code.
The code states, “In no instance shall upholstered furniture, carpeting, mattresses, box springs, clothing or any such fabric items, dishwashers, refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, stoves, ovens or any such indoor appliance be located in yards or yard enclosures or on porches where they are subject to weather deterioration or exposed to public view.”
Though some village board members support the fridge others have publicly stated that they’d like the fridge moved so it’s no longer a violation.
At the most recent trustees meeting, the application for an outdoor cafe at Empanada Nirvana was being considered. This came with a letter from Building Inspector Dean Stickles.
“I see that Nelson Pantoja, owner of Empanada Nirvana, whose business is located at 75 East Main Street Suite Three has made an application for approval for an outdoor cafe to the village board. Due to the fact that the refrigerator is still located on the exterior of his business after the owner was cited for this, that the application be granted pending the location of the refrigerator to the interior of the building, signed Dean Stickles,” read Trustee Brian Sebring.
While most of the board wanted to accept the application pending the violation be cleared up, Deputy Mayor Willie Carley felt otherwise.
“I think the request for an outdoor cafe is separate from a refrigerator, noise and everything,” Carley said. “So I say that we approve it.”
Trustee Lynn Thompson responded. “I agree with you, these are two different things, but to grant someone a permit for something else when they’re still in violation of another issue, I have a difference of opinion then you do. I mean someone is asking for permission to do yet something else when there’s another issue at that location.”
Carley asked if anything had been done to handle the fridge.
Village Manager John Revella mentioned the property has been cited and the department is taking it to court.
Carley then responded, mentioning that they should grant the application since it’s being taken care of in court. Trustee Patricia Maher also made a comment. “I see where you’re coming from Willie, I think you’re making a good point. To me, when we grant a business in our community an outdoor cafe permit, we do so with the knowledge that they’re going to conduct their restaurant in a public health and safety [way], in the aspect of how we view it should be,” said Maher.
After some more discussion, the board decided to amend an original motion made by Maher to accept the application.
“I’d like to make an amendment to the request from Empanada Nirvana for the outdoor cafe request so that we have that violation cleared up that the owner has been cited for, in addition to looking at the seating chart to make sure there’s no fire code violations,” Maher stated.
The motion passed, 5-1.