El Cactus could lose license

BY PAUL OSGERBY | JULY 14, 2014 5:00 AM

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Margarita Happy Hour might end a little sooner than expected for one local restaurant.

Iowa City Police Chief Sam Hargadine requested that the Iowa City City Council on Tuesday deny the liquor-license renewal of El Cactus Restaurant, 1921 Keokuk St.

“Typically, we uphold city recommendations,” Councilor Rick Dobyns said. “That is our pattern.”

There are specific thresholds that city officials look at, Dobyns said. Usually, it is a matter of violations, frequently related to underage drinking or possession, over a given time.

When a business goes over the threshold by quite a bit, then a clear-cut recommendation is brought before the council, he said.

The councilor said these types of recommendations are not rare, and he suspects there are a couple per year.

Hargadine said in an email to owners Ivan Armendariz and Jose Lopez he recommended that the council deny their application for a liquor-license renewal.

The letter stated that two civil lawsuits were filed against Armendariz earlier this year, indicating poor financial standing in the business.

Both cases were disputed between the owner and Reinhart Foodservice, a regional food distributor.

The first case was filed on Feb. 28 in Johnson County and the second on March 26 in Linn County.

According to Iowa Courts Online, the Johnson County lawsuit has been dismissed and settled for $5,280.68 as of July 10. The Linn County case is still waiting for a resolution.

The settlement costs are $4,821, according to the online records.

Representatives of El Cactus could not be reached by the The Daily Iowan.

However, according to correspondence from City Clerk Marian Karr, Armendariz and Lopez will have the opportunity to speak about the impending revocation.

The restaurant has two other operating locations, in Coralville, 104 First Ave., and Cedar Rapids, 588 Boyson Road N.E. No. 124.

Hargadine cited that Iowa Code considers these cases against “good moral character” for a business and requested denial until a better financial standing is reached.

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