Tupelo’s Los Toros drops bid to serve alcohol

TUPELO – An east Tupelo Mexican restaurant will remain alcohol-free after the property’s owner dropped his request for a beer permit.

But the issue might not be dead yet.

Freddie Norman, who owns the building at 1270 Oakview Drive housing Los Toros, withdrew his petition Tuesday morning, citing scheduling conflicts. He was unable to attend the City Council meeting that night where two of the restaurant’s neighbors planned to protest the permit, he said.

Because the one-story brick structure sits less than 400 feet from a residence, restaurant owner Juan Leon cannot serve alcohol without a variance from the city.

The council was supposed to vote whether to uphold or overturn a recent Planning Committee decision granting the variance. It would have allowed Los Toros restaurant to sell beer and light wine for one year. The property owner would have had to renew after that.

Council President Berdell Jones said there was no reason to vote since the request had been dropped.

Norman, who operated the now-defunct Country Squire Steak & Fish at that location, said he might reapply for a permit later this year.

“They should have the right to compete on the same level as any other restaurant,” he said. “It certainly wouldn’t hurt to sell beer.”

Leon said he wanted the permit, because several customers had asked for beer. Some of them, he said, left when told the restaurant didn’t serve it.

Neighbors of the eatery, which opened nearly two months ago, told Planning Committee members earlier this month that they oppose beer being served in their neighborhood. Some said they worried about drunk drivers. Ward 5 Councilman Bill Martin, in whose district the restaurant sits, said he sided with the residents.

But Ward 1 Councilman Dick Hill said during a Monday council work session that he sided with the restaurant. He said previous owners had been allowed to sell beer there, and so should Los Toros.

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