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Restaurant planned for Allentown asked to close earlier than other businesses

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- There is controversy over closing times in Buffalo's Allentown neighborhood.

The Allentown Association said it's asked two different restaurants to consider closing at 2 a.m. instead of 4 a.m. One of the restaurant owners said it's an unfair request.

"The law was passed for four o'clock and in order to have a fair chance, we think it should be the same for us," said Joseph Gugino, who wants to open a bar and restaurant at 204 and 206 Allen St.

The Association petitioned Erie County last year to pass a 2 a.m. closing time, which the county voted down.

Most bars and restaurants on Allen St. are allowed to stay open until 4 a.m.

"We want to make sure that we're on a level playing ground," said Gugino.

Gugino is currently one of the owners of Encore on Pearl St.

He wants to open Fallie Allen, an 80 seat restaurant with a patio and bar, on Allen St. He said he has a five star chef ready to join the restaurant.

Gugino said when he pitched his idea for an upscale restaurant, the Allentown Association asked him to consider the earlier close time for the restaurant and bar. They also asked him to consider not getting dance or live music licenses and closing the patio early, according to Gugino. He said he agreed to all three but doesn't want to have to close early.

"I understand their thought process on the quality of life but, as some people have said, closing at two o'clock isn't going to improve the quality of life if everyone else is open until four," said Gugino.

The Allentown Association told News 4 they suggested the early close time as a compromise. The Association said there are already 13 liquor licenses up and down that strip of Allen St. and people living there asked them not to support any more licenses.

Still, they told News 4 they sent a letter to the Common Council that said they support Gugino as long as he closes at 2 a.m.

The Association said it's an effort to keep the noise down since there is an apartment building right next door.

"It doesn't make a difference if you close at two or close at four," said Luis Centeno, who lives in that apartment building.

He said he's lived at the Buckingham for three years and he's used to the noise.

"Honestly, to me it's somewhere else new where I can go and try," he said, in support of the restaurant.

Across the street, Jeff Torgalski said, "It is already congested with restaurants already but if they have something that's unique then I don't see a reason why they shouldn't do good."

Torgalski lives in a building across from the proposed restaurant.

"Closing them up at two o'clock instead of four o'clock, when you already have a business like Jim's Steak Out doing business until 5 a.m., how is that fair to anyone?" said Torgalski.

Restauranteur Joe Gugino said if he agrees to the earlier time, it could set a precedent for other new businesses.

"That they say 'Well, ya know, Fallie Allen is closed at two and they agreed to it so you should close at two' or they say 'this bar is doing fine'," explained Gugino. "The law was passed to four o'clock and in order to have a fair chance we think it should be the same for us."

On Tuesday, the Common Council will decided whether to approve the Fallie Allen pitch, with the restriction.

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