Liquor per­mits un­der re­view

Caffé Ge­lato, Sea­sons Pizza al­legedly served mi­nors

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By BROOKE SCHULTZ [email protected]­pub.com

Af­ter at least two al­co­hol vi­o­la­tions in a 12-month pe­riod, one Main Street restau­rant vol­un­tar­ily gave up its spe­cial-use per­mit to serve al­co­hol and an­other could have its per­mit sus­pended.

Through Ne­wark’s point sys­tem – which was rolled out in 2016 as a way to hold ac­count­able un­ruly bars and restau­rants – es­tab­lish­ments that serve liquor can ac­crue dif­fer­ent amounts of points for vi­o­la­tions such as pedes­trian is­sues, noise com­plaints and dis­or­derly con­duct, as well as more se­ri­ous

of­fenses.

If an es­tab­lish­ment reaches 10 points, Ne­wark Po­lice De­part­ment can make a rec­om­men­da­tion to city coun­cil to sus­pend its spe­cial-use per­mit for 30 days, mean­ing the es­tab­lish­ment could not serve al­co­hol dur­ing that time.

Caffé Ge­lato, Sea­sons Pizza and Mod Pizza – none of which have a par­tic­u­larly un­ruly rep­u­ta­tion – have all ac­crued over 10 points for serv­ing al­co­hol to mi­nors at least twice within a 12 month cy­cle.

The restau­rants were among five to­tal that failed an in­spec­tion by the Ne­wark Po­lice De­part­ment con­ducted with Delaware Al­co­hol and To­bacco En­force­ment in Septem­ber.

NPD rou­tinely sends un­der­age co­op­er­at­ing wit­nesses into bars, ac­com­pa­nied by un­der­cover of­fi­cers. The wit­nesses can­not lie, and if asked for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, they show their real driver’s li­cense in­di­cat­ing they are un­der 21.

Serv­ing un­der­age pa­trons is worth six points, said Sgt. Greg D’Elia, of the NPD’s Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Unit.

Fol­low­ing a vi­o­la­tion, the es­tab­lish­ments are sent a let­ter no­ti­fy­ing them of the in­frac­tion. The busi­nesses also had manda­tor y meet­ings with the Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Unit su­per­vi­sor, city so­lic­i­tor and a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the plan­ning de­part­ment.

Mod Pizza and Sea­sons Pizza had meet­ings on Oct. 19, and Caffé Ge­lato had one on Feb. 15 and an­other this week.

“The hope with the points is that they cor­rect what­ever the prob­lem is right from the start, get right back on to where they need to be,” D’Elia ex­plained. “And then we just dou­ble check to make sure that they are. And if they’re not, then we have to have a sit down and kind of fig­ure out where the prob­lem lies.”

Fol­low­ing its vi­o­la­tion, Caffé Ge­lato is sched­uled to ap­pear be­fore city coun­cil in De­cem­ber. Coun­cil will de­cide whether to sus­pend the restau­rant’s spe­cialuse per­mit.

Caffé Ge­lato will also go be­fore the state for re­view of its liquor li­cense, D’Elia said.

Owner Ryan Ger­man said Caffé Ge­lato is not in the busi­ness to ser ve mi­nors.

“By no means do we gen­er­ate any rev­enue from serv­ing un­der­age,” Ger­man said. “We want to make sure we do every­thing the right way. We want to make sure that we work with the city to do ever ything just right. It’s not some­thing that’s in our wheel­house or that we do.”

Ger­man said he is mak­ing sure all staff mem­bers, not just serv­ing staff, un­der­stand the im­por­tance of check­ing IDs. The restau­rant also in­vested in a card reader to make sure IDs are valid.

“We cer­tainly do not serve un­der­age; we don’t have any rev­enue stream un­der­age,” he said. “We serve drinks com­ple­men­tary to our meals, peo­ple seated at a ta­ble, or seated at the bar wait­ing for ta­ble, and we’re try­ing to do a re­ally good job at serv­ing good food and pro­vid­ing a good restau­rant here in the city of Ne­wark.”

Sea­sons Pizza man­ager Jes­sica Miller said the pizze­ria own­ers de­cided to vol­un­tar­ily re­lin­quish their spe­cial-use per­mit to serve al­co­hol.

“I know that we weren’t sell­ing a lot any­way,” she noted.

She ex­plained that once hired, em­ploy­ees at­tend an Al­co­holic Bev­er­age Con­trol class. The em­ployee who served a mi­nor was a new em­ployee, she said.

“So he hadn’t yet went through the ABC class. So he shouldn’t even have been serv­ing it,” she said.

She noted that other Sea­sons Pizza lo­ca­tions sell al­co­hol, but they also have full din­ing rooms and a wait staff. Ne­wark’s lo­ca­tion has counter ser­vice.

Mod Pizza Gen­eral Man­ager Al­berto Ro­driguez said that his restau­rant’s manda­tor y meet­ing ul­ti­mately didn’t re­sult in a rec­om­men­da­tion to coun­cil sus­pend its spe­cial-use per­mit.

Fol­low­ing the sec­ond vi­o­la­tion, he said that the restau­rant has clamped down on how al­co­hol sales are made. Although man­age­ment staff did take Al­co­holic Bev­er­age Con­trol classes, he said that he is now the only one able to ser ve al­co­hol. When he isn’t present at the restau­rant, al­co­hol won’t be sold or even ad­ver­tised as avail­able, he said.

“We do sell some al­co­hol; we just don’t sell ex­clu­sively enough to be like a bar,” he said. “So we do take a hit on that when­ever I’m not here.”

Pre­vi­ously, em­ploy­ees were sup­posed to have at least two peo­ple ver­ify an ID – with Ro­driguez ver­i­fy­ing if he was present at the time. But these in­stances of vi­o­la­tion, he be­lieved, came down to the em­ploy­ees not pay­ing enough at­ten­tion.

D’Elia said that in most in­stances, the prob­lem can be solved with the owner be­ing no­ti­fied.

“Some­times the man­age­ment doesn’t tell the own­ers what’s go­ing on,” he con­tin­ued. “And we want to bring it di­rectly to the at­ten­tion of who­ever owns the restau­rant, or who­ever man­ages the restau­rant on a daily ba­sis, and then re­ally try to es­tab­lish a part­ner­ship with them to try to fix what­ever the prob­lem may be.”

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