Barrio in Tremont Seeks to Avoid Inspection, But Why?

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The controversial 806 Wine Bar on Literary Road in Tremont, which attracted a litany of complaints from neighbors for years, is now the Barrio, a Mexican restaurant owned by Joe Kahn, the former manager of Edison’s Pub just up the street.

Though there’s no word of complaints over the house specialty — tacos — the tensions and conflict that dogged 806 seem to be trailing Barrio like toilet paper on a shoe.

On the restaurant’s opening day earlier this month, Kahn and building owner Tom Leneghan sought court help to prohibit a planned city inspection of the place to make sure it was in compliance with its permits, a routine measure for any new business.

The twist: Their request wasn’t just for a temporary delay to avoid having inspectors mingling with Cinco de Mayo diners. They’re seeking a permanent exemption from being inspected.

Cuyahoga Common Pleas Judge Eileen T. Gallagher temporarily honored their request; a hearing to consider a permanent injunction has been held off at the city’s request.

If Barrio’s bid is successful, says Henry Senyak of the Tremont West Development Corporation, it would open the door for any business to block city workers and police from performing inspections or enforcing regulations — and eventually to a lawless state in which feral dogs would run loose in the streets, lapping draft beer straight from bar taps and prank-calling pizza shops to order pies they have no intention of picking up.

A Leneghan spokesman, who asked not to be named, says that’s not it at all. “We said they can come in and issue a citation if we’re in violation. But the guy at the zoning board called us and said, ‘We’re going to show up on your opening with police, fire, building inspectors, and a SWAT team.’ That’s like taking a sledgehammer to a fly. It’s disruption of a lawful business.”

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