By Tony Lopez

NORTH HIGHLANDS (CBS13) — A local Mexican restaurant’s plan to hire a live mariachi band for Cinco De Mayo is being blocked by a state agency.

Inside El Zarape Taqueria in North Highlands, the meat sizzles and the music plays. But it’s not the ambiance they really want to serve up.

The restaurant would love to hire a mariachi band with Cinco de Mayo less than a month away. Owner Erica Gonzales sees it as a way to bring in more cash.

“It would bring more people in here,” she said. “It would attract people who want to be entertained while they are eating.”

But the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is saying no to live music.

Because the family-run restaurant, which has a license to serve wine and beer, is considered to be in a high-crime area, and close to a school and church, the agency says no live mariachi band.

The owners agreed to that restriction to get a liquor license, but they’ve now filed an appeal arguing exceptions should be made.

But why does a department which regulates alcohol sales have power over live mariachi bands?

Quite simply, it’s ABC policy to protect neighbors from anything that might be “contrary to public welfare and morals.”

The agency admits that’s an antiquated way of saying it just wants to make sure alcohol, music and big crowds don’t add up to trouble.

The owners are having a tough time digesting that rule

“A restaurant should be able to have what they want to attract and get more business,” she said.

ABC is currently considering the appeal, and the restaurant hopes this mariachi story ends on a high note.

California Alcoholic Beverage Control Statement

The licensee agreed in 2013 to seven specific conditions on the license. ABC proposed the conditions because the premises was located in a high crime reporting district and within 600 feet of a church and school. These consideration points were carefully reviewed during the original license application process. ABC reached out to the Sheriff’s Departments, the church, school and the licensee before determining the conditions and before deciding the license should be approved. Recently, the licensee requested a modification of one of the conditions that states “there shall be no live entertainment”. ABC is reviewing the request and has been in touch with the licensee, the Sheriff’s Department, the church and school, and hopes to have a decision soon.



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