The owner of the Fajita Grill in Westbrook, who faces federal charges of employing undocumented immigrants, has applied to renew the restaurant’s liquor license, which expired Tuesday.

Westbrook’s mayor and City Council will have to decide Monday whether to consider the pending charges against Guillermo Fuentes as they vote on the renewal.

Fuentes, 36, was arrested on Sept. 21 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, who raided his restaurant on Main Street and two Mexican restaurants in Biddeford and Waterville that are owned by his brother, Hector Fuentes.

Guillermo and Hector Fuentes were charged with conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens and employment of illegal aliens.

Westbrook police Capt. Tom Roth, who tipped off the federal agency to the possibility that undocumented immigrants were working at Fajita Grill, said Thursday that there haven’t been any problems related to alcohol service at the restaurant in the past year.

“The police do not have any reason to deny their liquor license,” he said.

City Administrator Jerre Bryant said the federal charges are not relevant to the liquor license application.

Councilor John O’Hara agreed. “I would think that issue is a separate issue,” he said of the immigration charges.

A liquor license application does question the applicant about any criminal history.

“If someone is convicted, it does raise further scrutiny,” said Jeff Austin, supervisor of liquor licensing for the state’s Department of Public Safety.

In Fuentes’s case, that doesn’t apply, he said. “It hasn’t been adjudicated yet.”

City Council President Brendan Rielly said he doesn’t think that councilors are precluded from considering alleged criminal activity.

“I think we absolutely have to look at all the legal issues going around as we look at any license,” he said.

As a frequent customer at the restaurant, Rielly admits that pains him. “I love the place,” he said.

In the wake of the raid, customers have rallied around the restaurant, which reopened less than a week later with help from volunteers who washed dishes and served food because of the staffing shortage.

Several workers from the three restaurants were taken to the Cumberland County Jail after the raids. Eight of them, who are citizens of Mexico and Guatemala, face federal charges, including possession of false lawful permanent resident and Social Security cards, and unlawful presence in the United States after having been removed.

A woman who answered the phone at the restaurant Thursday said more employees have since been hired. Messages left at the restaurant for Guillermo Fuentes were not returned.

If Westbrook councilors deny the liquor license renewal at their meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Fuentes can appeal their decision to the state. If the state then upholds the city’s position, he could appeal to court, Austin said.

He said liquor licenses remain valid as appeals are pursued.

Although the Fajita Grill’s liquor license expired Tuesday, City Clerk Lynda Adams sent a letter to the Department of Public Safety requesting an extension until Monday’s council meeting.

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at: [email protected]