El Habanero won’t be reopening in Kent after settlement agreement with city

Restaurant site of shootings, drug deals; charges against owners dropped

The controversial El Habanero restaurant won’t be reopening and the owners are banned from operating any other business within the city of Kent under a settlement agreement that dropped all charges against the two owners.

Kent Police raided the restaurant, 1819 W. Meeker St., in March and shut it down. Police received complaints about drugs; guns and shootings; under-aged alcohol sales and consumption; and sexual assaults. Officers arrested the two owners for investigation of operating a business without a license in violation of city code.

”The city’s interest in this matter was to ensure the owners ceased operations,” said City Attorney Pat Fitzpatrick in a July 2 email. “The city accomplished this through a resolution wherein the city agreed not to file criminal charges in exchange for the surrender of the business license, the permanent closure of El Habanero, and an agreement that the owners not own, operate, fund or associate with any other business within the city of Kent.”

The agreement includes the side business to El Habanero, known as I Love Tamales, Fitzpatrick said. The owners are not Kent residents. They are each in their early 40s.

“The city retains the ability to file criminal charges for two years in the event the owners violate the terms of this resolution,” Fitzpatrick said.

The past calls about shootings included a July 22, 2018 incident in the restaurant’s parking lot that led to a police pursuit of a vehicle and the death of Kent Officer Diego Moreno, 35. Moreno had just deployed spike strips at the intersection of Kent Des Moines Road and West Meeker Street to try to stop a vehicle fleeing the bar when a fellow officer struck him with a SUV.

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