Naples Pizza and Restaurant will lose its liquor license for 75 days beginning in January, a state Liquor Control Commission administrator said Wednesday.
Owner Anthony Prifitera agreed at an LCC hearing Tuesday to have Naples’ license suspended, pay a $12,500 fine and permanently restrict drinking of alcoholic beverages to a strictly monitored room, said Gerald Langlais, an LCC administrator.
The hearing followed two LCC raids of Naples this year — one in March and another in September — which were prompted by complaints of underage drinking.
The LCC agents who participated in the raids and about 10 underage Yale students caught purchasing alcohol were sworn in and set to testify against the restaurant Tuesday. But as a result of what Langlais called an “11th-hour agreement” between Prifitera and LCC officials, no one took the stand.
A student who attended the hearing said the Yalies there did not take it seriously.
“After we were sworn in, most of us sat down and started doing our homework,” Eric Ward ’04 said. “It was more of a big show than anything else.”
In addition to the fine and license suspension, the LCC ordered Prifitera to post as many employees as necessary at the entrance to the monitored room and to use a computerized scanner to authenticate patrons’ IDs. The 75-day suspension will take effect at the beginning of the spring term in order to explicitly coincide with the time frame when most students return to campus, Langlais said.
Prifitera could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
“There’s no establishment as intimate to Yale as Naples Pizza,” said Prifitera’s attorney, Peter Ressler. He did not comment further.
The litany of complaints against Naples included selling alcohol over the counter.
Langlais said that when employees leave glasses of beer and wine on the counter, anyone can pick them up. This means that Naples’ bar functions effectively as a “consumer bar” — something for which the restaurant does not have a license.
Waitress service, or any set-up in which customers do not serve themselves, would solve the problem. Prifitera did not find this solution feasible, Langlais said.
Naples has not been the LCC’s only target near the Yale campus.
Toad’s Place was raided Sept. 12 and was found to have sold alcohol to several underage people. Kavanagh’s, a Chapel Street bar that caters mostly to New Haven residents and businessmen, had its liquor license suspended for three days in October following a raid in February, 2000.
“The liquor commission is everywhere,” said a Kavanagh’s employee who declined to identify himself.
Ressler assured the LCC at the hearing that Naples would not be the subject of any further complaints, Ward said. Students said they were surprised and saddened to see such restrictions put on the venerable Yale hangout.
“I’m shocked,” Emmy Hoy ’04 said. “I thought they had stopped selling to minors, and then this happened.”
“I’m sure this is the end of Naples,” he said. “It won’t be the place to go anymore.”
But not everyone sympathized with the troubled pizzeria.
“I don’t condone what Naples does at all,” Kiana Jamison ’05 said. “Selling alcohol to underage kids is wrong and Naples should be punished for it. Maybe this time they’ll learn their lesson.”