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Following Fatal Stabbing, Bar's Hours To Be Slashed

Miramar has had numerous problems since a new owner took control in January, according to police and city staff.

Food trucks being cleaned out behind the building. DJs playing until all hours. Booze served after last call. A portable toilet installed out back. An underage person drinking in the bar. Non-functioning security cameras.

Finally, a stabbing outside the bar that left 21-year-old Brandon Gil dead.

These are the alleged problems associated with , a sports bar and billiards hall at 522 Main St., according to a city report prepared for the Watsonville Planning Commission.

But it's the bar's six-month review with the planning commission—not the mounting issues with the bar—that is prompting city staff to recommend that planning commissioner reduce the hours at the El Miramar and enact strict guidelines for its owner, Juan Yepez Garcia, to follow.

“Of course the Brandon Gil murder investigation, that happened right outside their business and that is a part of it, but it’s not the sole and driving reason," Watsonville police Lt. David McCartney said.

In January, Garcia was granted a special use permit from the planning commission. That's when the Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Academy graduate took over Miramar. Garcia had plans to operate the business as a restaurant, sports bar and pool hall, according to city documents. 

At that time, the planning commission agreed to extend the bar's hours to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and allowed karaoke and bands to play on those nights.

But Garcia reportedly failed to comply with many requirements. The complaints against him include: 

  • Not installing a security camera at the back door.
  • Inside the bar, a broken video camera inhibited the police department's investigation into Gil's death. He had been drinking in the Miramar before the deadly fight. 
  • Before May 6, there were no security guard at the bar.
  • A DJ played loud music at the bar at least twice in the month of April.
  • Alcohol was served after midnight on at least one night.
  • An underage person was cited for drinking in the bar area in April.
  • Two catering trucks are parked out back, where they are cleaned. Neighbors say this is a nuisance.
  • Neighbors also complained about the portable toilet installed behind the business.

Gil's death cause police officers to take notice of the downtown bar and its issues. McCartney said the police department has been working with Garcia for almost two months to educate him about the requirements he’s supposed to meet. City staff has done a similar education process with him.

“These incidents have repeated themselves," McCartney said. "At this point it doesn’t appear that our compliance checks and education efforts have taken hold.”

It's proposed that El Miramar start closing at 10 p.m. daily, stop having live entertainment, park the catering trucks elsewhere and get rid of the port-a-potty.

The bar is currently open until 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. The pool hall is open unitl 2 a.m. daily, though alcohol sales stop when the bar closes.

If approved, the changes would be reviewed in three months to determine if they need to be modified again or if the Miramar's liquor license should be revoked.

The Villager, a bar on East Lake Avenue,  with the Watsonville Planning Commission in late 2011 after several police incidents associated with the establishment. Unlike the Miramar, none of them resulted in death.

The in the City Council Chambers, fourth floor of the Civic Plaza, 275 Main St. in Watsonville

Parents of Alyssa June 01, 2012 at 01:45 PM
This was not a random drunk bar fight. They knew each other. This could have happen in their own home. Dnt blame the bar. Blame the hood looms. Bars are social gatherings shown needs to free them selfs from the work week. All these acts of violences are already being committed at their homes
Steve Bankhead June 01, 2012 at 03:48 PM
If the owner is a Cordon Bleu chef, here's hoping El Miramar comes through this with a good restaurant in operation. It's only two blocks from my front door, and I miss having an additional nearby dining option.
Jennifer Squires June 01, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Sounds like, from reading the reports going to the planning commission, the fight was just one of many problems at the bar. But we don't need another downtown vacancy, so hopefully things will improve and El Miramar remains in business.
Angela Elmore- Gallardo June 01, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Maybe eliminate the hoodlems from going in there!!! And these issues are not the bars' fault... It's the people that go!!! Everything in this town is getting taken away from us because of the bad people! It's not right! We don't have anything in this town anymore for anyone to do!!!
Parents of Alyssa June 01, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Im tired of going to Santa Cruz to find entertainment. We should invest more entertainment here. These problems happen in every city.
shelley beach June 01, 2012 at 07:50 PM
the issue is NO VIDEO CAMERAS and NO SECURITY!!!! the security probably wouldnt allow has you people say "hoodlums" in. so yes that would be the bars fault. and my son might still be alive if they had complied to what was asked of them (the bar owner)
TRUTH BE TOLD June 01, 2012 at 09:43 PM
It's toilet, not "toliet," you incorrect bitch! and according to, not "according a..." Quit writing articles at 5 am maybe?
David H. Perez June 02, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Typical, typical, just keep blaming the bar and everybody else. So, if the bar were to have a surveillance camera, how would they be able to identify someone as a "hoodlum" just by their looks? After all, haven't you been whining about your son being profiled, and people making assumptions about him without knowing all the facts? So how do you think a security camera could identify a "hoodlum" before they were allowed entrance? What would you think if they had identified your son as a hoodlum based on his appearance? You speak out of two sides of your mouth. Quit blaming everyone else - if your son was not running with a gang and had been doing something more constructive with his life that night, he might still be alive. Blaming the bar for his murder is like a person blaming their car for their DUI arrest.
Parents of Alyssa June 02, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Pretty sad how you blaming the bar for ur sons death. How bout blaming the guy who actually did it.
Marcus June 02, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Wow, what an idiot
Marcus June 02, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Security is not going to stop the gangsta's from coming in. They will just stop them from wearing their colors. Cilantros has security and that place is always filled with gangsta's on friday nights.
FAITH June 04, 2012 at 04:28 AM
Wow that's bullshit!!!! You can't control anybodys choices and people make there own choices and sometimes you get a bad outcome! But at the end of the day you need to take responsibilities for your own actions! The bar isn't at fault...
shelley beach June 04, 2012 at 04:57 AM
All u ppl on here have not gone through what I am. I didn't say video cameras would have not allowed my son in the bar but security guards maybe wouldn't have allowed all 3 in. Also there is nothing wrong with going to a bar. My son was of age. And had a job. He was constructive. A video camera would have helped the investigation. And the video won't lie, like the murderer did. What is he gonna say "yes I started the fight"? Hell no. So David get off of my back all I want is justice, like u would if it were your child.
shelley beach June 04, 2012 at 06:44 PM
i do jose!
shelley beach June 04, 2012 at 06:49 PM
faith, the bar is guilty of many infractions! two of them could have prevented the incident or helped in the investigation!!!! the bar had their responsibilities and didnt comply. thats all! people lie all the time but video doesnt!!!!!!
Angela Elmore- Gallardo June 04, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Our children will get killed if they are apart of gangs, gang affiliated, hang out with them, etc. We all know and the "kids" know they this could happen at any given time. That's what they do nowadays.. They kill each other and we all know it... We as parents KNOW if our kids are gansters, hanging with them, OR affiliated... The style of clothes, tattoos, likes, dislikes, the way they talk, photos, hand signs/gestures.. Yes, it IS identifiable in more ways than one!!! IF kids are doing these things- yes... they will eventually be killed and we all know that, and they do too upon being around people they shouldn't. Pick a different life-style!!!! Gangs do no good for anyone! Again, I say... This IS NOT the bars fault! Of-course the bar will be blamed because of the pain of loss by family. THIS killing would have happend regardless of the place they were at. This is purely due to lifestyle choices.... These are the very very sad consequences of the choice. I am so very sorry for YOUR loss...
shelley beach June 05, 2012 at 07:08 AM
i appreciate your kind words at then end of your comment, but u are wrong about all kids in gangs get killed. some live productive lives and some dont, some go to prison and some do get killed. and its very sad that any family has to endure that, these kids get recruited at very young ages, and alot of parents dont know about it till its too late. when we were in counseling when my son was a teenager i learned that the lifestyle of gangs is an addiction, like drugs. and before anyone jumps down my throat about that, this is what a probation officer told me, believe it or not. and the only way to curb this is thru education, which Brandons father and i participated in thru counseling which we had every week at my home for about a year and a half. i would like to help other parents stop other children from entering into that lifesyle. i talked to my son always about not getting involved in gangs. now hes dead and i have all these ppl on here blaming me. like i said video dont lie and ppl do, and i will never know the absolute truth, because the bar didnt do what the city asked of it to do.thank u too all of u who understand and have some compassion for what i am dealing with and to others who like to blame me, maybe someday u will know what its like to be judged.
Jennifer Squires June 06, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Here's what happened at last night's meeting: http://watsonville.patch.com/articles/el-miramar-hours-curtailed-owner-hires-security

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