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Capriccio Liquor License Renewed So It Can Be Sold Under Settlement

Capriccio By the Sea, in Ortley Beach and Lavallette. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Capriccio By the Sea, in Ortley Beach and Lavallette. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

The liquor license held by Sherman Hospitality, the corporate name of the entity that owned the Capriccio by the Sea restaurant and bar in Lavallette, has been renewed – but only so it can be sold to a new owner.

The license is owned by Paola Pascarella and Kenneth Deiner. The license came under fire after a group of neighboring residents complained that the restaurant held live music performances and attracted too many people late at night. Though the owners cut back on music and even installed soundproofing devices, officials continued to side with several of the neighbors and brought the issue to the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission. The ABC charged the restaurant and its owners with 13 license violations, some having to do with the fact that one of its former owners, local attorney Kim Pascarella, was an employee of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. The state alleges Pascarella failed to file a disclosure form, which he has said in the past was untrue. He no longer is employed by the prosecutor’s office Most of the other violations were minor record-keeping errors, but the state came down hard on the restaurant, calling for a suspension of the license for 373 days to be followed by a full revocation of the license.

In December, the owners and the state agreed to settle the dispute, and the court established a consent decree wherein the owners would be allowed to sell their license rather than having it revoked. In order for the license to be sold to a new party, however, it must be active. The borough council on Monday night renewed the license to active status, pending a person-to-person or place-to-place transfer as required by the court.

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“In order for them to comply with the ABC directive, they have to divest the license, and for them to divest the license it must be active,” explained Mayor Walter LaCicero.

The council renewed the license after having declined to do so for two years. The license still comes with a slew of restrictions, including a ban on music being played outdoors at the establishment’s tiki bar, a ban on live music indoors after 10 p.m. on weekends and 9 p.m. on weekdays, and a prohibition on beverage service of any kind at the tiki bar after 8 p.m., regardless of the night of the week.

It is unknown if a new owner will utilize the license at its former location or if it will seek to open a new establishment. The restrictions will remain attached to the license.

“The new owner will be in compliance,” said LaCicero. “The new owner will have to agree to operate the license … under those conditions.”

The former Capriccio restaurant is located within both Toms River Township and Lavallette, but previous legal wranglings led to the state declaring the license a “conflict license” and awarding its jurisdiction to Lavallette so the operators did not have to carry two licenses for a single building.