Metro

Seaport residents say restaurant issues have nothing to do with race

Pedro Alarcón (left) and his nephew, Luis Maggioli, said their efforts to make money by hosting special events have been thwarted by the landlord and the residents upstairs.
Lane Turner/Globe Staff
Pedro Alarcón (left) and his nephew, Luis Maggioli, said their efforts to make money by hosting special events have been thwarted by the landlord and the residents upstairs.

Irene Cook, who lives above La Casa De Pedro in the Seaport District, said her issues with the struggling Venezuelan restaurant have nothing to do with the race and ethnicity of the owners or their patrons.

She said the food is not that good and the drinks are too expensive.

But Nicholai Mitchko, another resident, said he goes there all the time, especially for the food.

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“I ate a burrito there last night,’’ he said Thursday. “I’m not complaining.”

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The differences of opinion are playing out following a Globe report on La Casa De Pedro’s financial struggles since its opening 18 months ago and its fight with its landlord, Waterside Development Group LLC, which wants the restaurant out.

Owners Pedro Alarcón and his nephew, Luis Maggioli, said their efforts to make money by hosting special events have been thwarted by the landlord and the residents upstairs who they said had complained they were attracting “the wrong type of people.” Now, they say, they’re $3 million in debt and filing for bankruptcy protection.

The Seaport District, lined with restaurants and rich in tourist dollars, is a tough market, even for longtime restaurants like Salvatore’s, which shuttered its Northern Avenue location last month. La Casa De Pedro is located steps away from the Northern Avenue hub of restaurants.

“I think we are seeing a saturation point’’ in the restaurant industry, including in the Seaport, said Stephen Clark, director of government affairs for the Massachusetts Restaurant Association.

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The Seaport offers a different set of challenges, Clark said, including high rents and developers who offer incentives to restaurateurs to open in their properties without a clear long-term viability strategy.

Meanwhile, sales are flat, staffing is limited, and restaurants are coming up with more creative ways to stay afloat. They are raising prices and cooking up “non-prime-time” menus in an effort to attract patrons and revenue, Clark said.

“In talking to several operators, they have to work harder to break even,’’ Clark said.

Alarcón said he wanted to introduce Venezuelan cuisine from his homeland to the Seaport when he leased the first floor of the luxury Waterside Place apartment building at 505 Congress St. Construction issues delayed his grand opening, and he amassed a $3 million debt.

To boost revenue, he began offering Sunday brunches and Saturday hip-hop events that brought in needed money.

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But they also drew complaints from the building’s residents.

One resident who lives above the restaurant said the owners were difficult. Their valets blocked a residents’ loading zone and patrons loudly spilled onto the sidewalks in the early morning hours, said the resident who asked to remain anonymous citing safety concerns.

Outside the building Thursday, another resident, who also refused to give his name, said he didn’t mind living above a restaurant, but that La Casa De Pedro turned into a “night club-ish thing.”

“And at 2 a.m. you can hear all the noise, “ he said.

La Casa De Pedro has a license to serve all alcohol and offer entertainment until 2 a.m.

Cook said she and her family were excited about a restaurant being on the first floor. She said she went to the restaurant a few times but was not impressed.

Kyle King, a 20-year-old resident, said he hasn’t heard the residents’ complaints and likes the restaurant.

“It’s actually pretty good,’’ he said.

And Mitchko, a 22-year-old engineer, said he knew what he was getting into when he moved in about a year ago.

“It’s exactly as I expected it would be: It’s got outside seating and a bar,’’ he said. “You can’t really complain if you live here. If you see it — the outside and the bar — you are pretty sure you are going to get some noise.”

Meghan E. Irons can be reached at meghan.irons@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @meghanirons.