Residents, officials targeting Mexican restaurant

2013-03-20T16:42:00Z 2013-03-20T22:27:08Z Residents, officials targeting Mexican restaurantStan Maddux Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
March 20, 2013 4:42 pm  • 

LAPORTE | Some LaPorte residents are taking a stand against a Mexican restaurant allegedly operating from a home.

Officials are also taking aim at the establishment or any other like its kind.

A measure was proposed to restrict businesses that serve food and other products on a mobile cart.

Tacos My Fren began serving food from a cart at 805 Detroit St. last year. However, there is evidence customers have also been served in a makeshift restaurant set up in the proprietor's mobile home on the same parcel, officials said.

Mel West, who owns a nearby residence, said the operation is even advertised on social media, adding legitimacy to the allegations of illegal food being served there. Among his complaints are electrical cords stretched over sidewalks from the home to power the food cart.

Lana Buckles, environmental health/food supervisor, told the City Council on Monday that two booths with napkins and salt and pepper were found inside the home along with roughly 30 pounds of meat and cases of limes. Buckles said operating a restaurant from a home is not permitted.

She said serving food from the cart is allowed but since there is no running water on the cart that is a violation.

A cease and desist order has been issued to  owner Jesus Tapia, who also serves tacos at festivals and other events.

Among the proposed restrictions are not being allowed to sell items from a cart within 1,000 feet of a school or products within 100 feet from a competing business. Street vendors could only operate from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Jeff Simon, who lives near Tacos My Fren, told the council people are going in and out of the taco establishment well into the night and there are traffic tie-ups at times from vehicles parking in the streets to get takeout.

"He does have that in his house. You can see it. Look through the windows you can see the people in there," said Simon.

The City Council will review the proposed restrictions to possibly make changes before it's brought back for an expected vote April 1.

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