Though neighbors say things have quieted down since the restaurant and bar reopened, the owners of Capriccio By The Sea may have new restrictions to deal with come summer.
The long-time Italian restaurant switched operators last season, leading a group of residents who live in adjacent homes and a nearby condominium complex to complain about loud music, a large number of patrons on the street late at night, and the occasional fist fight.
Lavallette officials on Monday did not divulge their plan to attempt to reign in the revelry this summer, but said they have been in contact with the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission to investigate what types of restrictions can be placed on the establishment’s license as contingencies.
Capriccio is unique in that its property spans the border of Lavallette and Toms River, meaning portions of the restaurant are located in each town. Its liquor license is issued by Lavallette, but the area where the most noise has been reported is in Toms River. That caused confusion last summer as to which police department was responsible for handling complaints.
Residents have returned to borough council meetings in recent weeks since the restaurant has reopened for the season.
“There were a couple of rowdy people but the music wasn’t nearly as loud as it could be,” said Anthony Quintazo, who lobbied the council to take action against the restaurant at a meeting Monday.
LaCicero confirmed the borough is investigating ways it could more aggressively pursue noise complaints.
“I don’t think we’re going to share any of that with the public until we’re ready to [adopt] it,” LaCicero said.
The borough attorney and administrator have both been in touch with the ABC and are in the process of writing new regulations.
The purpose of the ABC consultations are to establish “parameters and limits that can be placed on a license” in order to suit the borough’s concerns.
Towns in New Jersey routinely place restrictions in liquor licenses, including operating hours, times when music can be played and even resrtaurant-to-bar space sizes. But in many cases, restrictions must be uniform to all establishments in the town. Point Pleasant Beach became embroiled in litigation after it attempted to force bars in its boardwalk portion to close earlier than bars elsewhere, or pay an extra fee.
Officials said Capriccio has yet to formally apply for its annual license renewal, which is due over the summer. Restrictions on the license would likely come alongside its renewal and be subject to a vote by council members.