A month after gaining clearance to apply for a new liquor license, Naples Pizza and Restaurant plans to file paperwork that could end the dry season at the pizzeria as soon as early May.
Naples plans to file an application with the state Liquor Control Commission this week for a new license that should take the LCC about 30 days to review, said Peter Ressler, an attorney representing the restaurant. The application follows a more than one-year period during which Naples had its liquor license suspended and eventually revoked by the LCC.
Officials such as the fire marshal and the health inspector must sign off on the application before it is approved, LCC administrator Gerald Langlais said.
If the application is approved, liquor-seeking patrons of Naples will undergo extensive identification checks to ensure they are over 21, Ressler said.
“The new system they will be using over there [in Naples] will be the strongest in the country,” Ressler said. “The photo ID [of the driver's license] is scanned to check for legitimacy, and fingerprints are taken.”
The device has a database of licenses from all 50 states that it uses to verify the authenticity of the license as a whole.
Before purchasing alcohol, a customer will have to pass the driver’s license authenticity test, Ressler said. If cleared, the customer will receive a bracelet denoting eligiblity for further drinks so long as the patron does not exit and re-enter the establishment. Customers must have their driver’s licenses tested each time they enter Naples.
Such actions by Naples to prevent underage drinking in its bar were applauded by underage drinking watchdog organizations.
“One of the best things any establishment can do is to have their employees trained — in recognizing fake IDs and recognizing intoxicated patrons so they don’t serve alcohol to them,” said Gary Najarian, project director for the Connecticut Coalition to Stop Underage Drinking. “There’s a very easy 4-5-step order [to recognize fakes].”
Naples’ application will be filed by by a consortium of new owners, which may have some bearing on the way the LCC treats it.
“[Naples] is probably filing under new ownership so they can buy a new license without having to pay fines incurred under the old license,” said Kelly Scaduto, manager of SERVE.
SERVE is a company based in Florida that provides an alcohol education training program to restaurants and other liquor-serving establishments.
If the ownership of Naples is not entirely different than the previous ownership, the LCC could still require Naples to pay fines incurred under the old license, Langlais said.
“That’s a commission decision,” Langlais said. “If it’s not all totally new people — the commission will evaluate what they are trying to do with the application.”
Naples planned on filing the application in early February, Ressler said, but the filing was postponed to allow the pizzeria time to compile sketches and photographs that would demonstrate to the LCC that the restuarant’s bar area is physically distinct from the rest of the eatery.
The owners of Naples must also undergo background checks, Langlais said. Background checks are common practice among liquor enforcement agencies, Scaduto said.
The popular Wall Street hangout had its license suspended for 75 days after a September 2001 raid by LCC agents found the restaurant was illegally selling liquor to minors. In addition to the suspension, which began in January 2002, Naples was hit with a fine which, if paid by Dec. 21, 2001, would have brought alcohol back to the pizzeria at the end of March 2002.
Owner Anthony Prifitera did not pay the fine on time. The commission denied Prifitera’s request to pay the fine in three installments and revoked his liquor license permanently.
Ressler said he is confident this next interaction with the LCC will be positive for the pizzeria.
“We expect the application to be accepted,” he said.