This month, after one full year of prohibition, the owners of Naples Pizza and Restaurant plan to file for a new liquor license, which will take four dramatic weeks to process. That means, if all goes well — and knock mint green, initial-carved wood it does — the $7 pitchers of Budweiser that underclassmen romanticize and upperclassmen mourn could be back again in as few as 30 days.
Oh Naples, it has been too long — too slow, too boring and altogether too dry.
Since the state Liquor Control Commission yanked their license for good last year after owner Anthony Prifitera failed to pay a $12,500 lump-sum fine for serving alcohol to minors, Naples has been a shadow of its former self. Now it is an early evening haunt for overaged locals, a mid-priced Italian restaurant with the kind of good food and friendly service that appeals to New Haven’s retired population and Hamden’s Little League teams. By the time a Yalie really gets a Naples craving, the pizza men have Lysoled the floor, flipped the chairs and locked the door for the night.
Remember the good old days, if you were around to see them.
Sure, the kind workers at Naples who sold alcohol to, well, anyone, flagrantly broke the law. After a year of early and lonely Thursday nights, we can only imagine they have learned their lesson. We certainly have learned ours: underage drinking is very much against the law. It is something that now must only be done in private — or publicly with a convincing photo ID. And for the sake of Naples the Institution, which hopefully still will let everyone in at night and card at the counter rather than the door, it is something that will have to be confined to those who can prove they are old enough. But underclassmen take heart: if this year has shown us nothing else, it is that Naples is worth the wait.
Besides, the juniors and seniors are the only ones who really remember Naples as it was. One by one most of us have had our 21st birthday parties somewhere else, branched out to bars with fancy drinks that don’t allow writing on the tables and walls, all the while hoping the taps might flow at Naples once again. We remember those perfect, crowded nights on Wall Street and think that if Naples can have booze once more, maybe some of freshman year will come back too. Truth is, it will not be the same. But it will be good, if it happens at all.
Certainly, at one point in time, Yalies overindulged in Naples’ workers’ leniency. And certainly, when the fine came, the restaurant’s owners should have paid it. But this is our only truly undergraduate bar — for those who are old enough to drink — and a social center of campus for everyone else. After an alcohol-free year, the powers that be should consider a bit of leniency themselves and allow the restaurant just one more chance.
Give Naples its liquor license back. It has been long enough.