For more information on the video mentioned in this piece, please see the follow-up story, .
Long-simmering tensions over the recent opening of Nicky Rottens have led to a videotaped confrontation, a request for police protection and a dispute that the City Council will try to address Tuesday.
That's when the council will consider the restaurant’s meeting.
The decision led to an outburst from the restaurant's owners, according to two members of the panel, and serves as an example of the high level of emotion generated in the battle over the eatery on the corner of Orange Avenue and 1st Street.
The spot had been a concern for residents and business leaders alike before to create their restaurant. The after lengthy talks with the city over permits.
Though many residents were happy to see a more upscale establishment come in, others objected because they believe that block of Orange already has too many businesses that serve alcohol.
Tomasello said he feels the opponents have targeted him and wishes they would try to see his side.
“I’ve put my heart and soul into this place,” he said. “I’ve gone to zero for it.”
Steve Rauber, one of the opponents, doesn’t deny that the fight has become personal.
“I’m not against the restaurant,“ he said. “I’m against them and the way they do business.”
Karen Finch, who serves as executive director of the Chamber of Commerce and has offered steadfast support for the restaurant, suggested everyone just needs to try a time out.
"It would be wonderful if we could all play nice in the sandbox," she said.
The recent troubles began when Tomasello spoke angrily to planning commissioners who opposed a proposal to allow Nicky Rottens customers to park in a nearby hardware store lot. The restaurant needs to find more spaces to meet the terms of its permit.
“He told me how much damage I had done to his family with my vote,” Commissioner Harry DiNardi said. “I didn’t put much stock in it other than to say grow up.”
But another commissioner who was confronted was alarmed enough by the experience to seek to be recused from future dealings with Nicky Rottens. The commissioner asked not to be identified for this story.
Then, following the Planning Commission meeting, a part-time Coronado resident who owns a condo behind the restaurant said he was threatened in an incident captured on video.
Tom Wucherer, also of Las Vegas, has been a persistent critic of Nicky Rottens. His attorney, Jihan Murad, asked Mayor Casey Tanaka to provide security at Tuesday's council meeting, when Wucherer plans to bring up the confrontation during the discussion of the parking issue.
In a letter to the city, Murad alleged that during a verbal altercation, Tomasello, his father Dominico or Aaron “threatened to bash [Wucherer’s] face in.”
Rauber also claims the owners have made threats against him and his family.
Tomasello denies threatening anyone and feels he is the aggrieved party.
“For six months he (Wucherer) has been telling me that he is going to crush me, bankrupt me,” Tomasello said.
Councilwoman Carrie Downey wants to see the restaurant succeed, particularly because Tomasello and Aaron remained committed to it during the financial meltdown, which caused banks to shy away from lending to small businesses.
“I support restaurants, not bars, and I think it's an excellent one for that corner. I want it to work,” Downey said.
Finch believes Nicky Rottens' owners have been frustrated by demands the city has placed on then.
“They have been scrutinized for everything they do,” Finch said. “They even had their outdoor heaters inspected. Who has to do that?”
Not surprisingly, opponents of Nicky Rottens take the opposite view.
Though he acknowledged the city often makes exceptions for residents, as well as businesses, Rauber contends that City Hall has been too accommodating to Tomasello and Aaron.
“If the city had just followed its own rules,” he said, “We wouldn't have a problem.”