The liquor license that was the center of a dispute between a restaurant owner, a group of residents and Lavallette officials is still in the hands of its former owner and remains inactive.
The borough council this week renewed the license held by Sherman Hospitality, the formal name of the entity that owned the former Capriccio by the Sea restaurant and bar. Owned by Paola Pascarella and Kenneth Deiner, the license came under fire after a small 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 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 administrative violations. Most of the 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 2020, 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 valid, even if it is unused. The council on Monday renewed the license for another year in inactive status – commonly known as a “pocket license” – until it can be sold.
“The ABC had a hearing and had suspended it for a while,” said Mayor Walter LaCicero. “There is a requirement that the license not operate until it comes to a new buyer, and that has not happened yet. It cannot be used, but it’s not voided.”
The former Capriccio’s restaurant has been replaced by the Lobster Dock restaurant, which is a BYOB establishment. The restaurant spans the border of Lavallette and Toms River, however previous legal wranglings surrounding the property established that just one town’s liquor license should suffice, ultimately resulting in Lavallette holding administrative jurisdiction over the matter.