NORFOLK, Va. — The owner of California Burrito has operated his business on Granby Street for seven years.
“People like to dance and have a good time. They like to have great food. That’s what we attract,” Michael Roldan said.
Now, he has to stop the fun and no longer serve food.
10 On Your Side previously reported California Burrito would stay open, but Roldan rolled the dice.
“They give me the option that I could sell food. If I decide just to sell food, I have to surrender my ABC license, which I am not going to,” he said.
The city said the restaurant violated its permit because of overcrowding.
“The concern for overcrowding doesn’t come from nowhere. Fire plays an important part in human life,” Katherine Taylor, the Norfolk Asst. City Attorney said.
Roldan admits the restaurant’s mistake.
“Yes, we did have violations,” he said. However, Roldan said after the first violation, they made changes.
“After we had our first violations, I submitted a whole new security plan.”
The plan included training for him and his security team. He said security also records the number of people in the building with a clicker.
Roldan feels three overcrowding violations shouldn’t equate to closing his business.
“I am not a bad guy. I have been here for seven years. There have been no fights, no violence, no shootings,” he said. “I feel like we operate a business Granby Street needs. The way they are doing this, I am kind of a little bit lost.”
Roldan renovated his around-3,000-square-feet restaurant to include the backspace. The space was previously used for storage. He created a dance floor with a bar. The addition allowed for more space for guests, but the capacity remained the same.
“I have a huge building where I can fit 160 people, and they have me with 49,” he said. “Every time that we open the whole building, you put 49 people in here, people walk in here and say there are only a few people.”
He asked the planning commission multiple times to change his capacity. The pandemic halted the progress, he said. Recently, he asked for the final time and it was denied.
“We are supposed to grow, not to stay the same size,” he said.
Roldan and his lawyer are preparing for an appeal, but Roldan has a Plan B.
“I have to start thinking of Plan B cause right now, Plan A isn’t in my hands anymore. It’s in the city council’s hands,” he said.
He gave the new plan to the city council which includes converting his space into an upscale restaurant.
“If you guys don’t like me to have a nightclub, okay, I will have fine dining,” Roldan said.