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Angeles County | Community News File / Bellflower

Owner's Suit Says City Forced Restaurant Closure

July 16, 1998

The owner of a restaurant has filed a $1-million federal lawsuit charging that the city forced him out of business because the music he played for customers was Mexican, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Angel Rosales Montes, owner of La Sierra Restaurant, filed the civil rights suit Monday, alleging that city officials illegally harassed him by slapping him with frivolous code violations, making it impossible for him to continue operating his Mexican restaurant, said his attorney, Frank Weiser.

Montes charges in the suit that three City Council members, while running for election in February 1997, told restaurant neighbors that they would not allow a restaurant with Mexican music to operate in the city.

City officials denied Montes' allegations. According to Margo Wheeler, director of community development, Montes closed his restaurant after the city revoked his permit to serve liquor.

The city's decision followed complaints from neighbors, several suspensions of the restaurant's liquor permit by the state's Department of Alcohol Beverage Control and a Sheriff's Department investigation that found minors and drunk customers were being served alcohol, Wheeler said.

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