Friday, February 26, 2016

Pepperoni's Tavern Pleads to Patrons For Support

Pepperoni's Tavern, a pizza restaurant & sports bar, on Old Milton Parkway in Alpharetta is facing closure after being refused renewal of its liquor license.  Operating partner Phil Brown claims this treatment is the result of a misunderstanding last year.

(Although at one point related, the similarly logoed Pepperoni's Duluth Ale House on Buford Highway in Duluth is not associated with Pepperoni's Tavern.)  

Last month, Brown posted an open letter to its loyal patrons on the restaurant's facebook page:

"During the current appeal of our Alcohol License to the City of Alpharetta, we desperately need your support. We are attempting to have the City issue our 2016 alcohol license so that we may obtain our State of Georgia license. Without these two licenses, we are unable to serve beer, wine, or spirits. 

During this time, we ask you and your friends to continue to dine at Pepperoni’s Tavern. Please email and tell your friends, have a team party, or buy lunch for the office. Without alcohol sales, our revenues have dropped dramatically. And guess what! Our landlord wants us to pay full rent, the utilities want their bill paid, and most importantly, my employees deserve their paychecks. 

We have served the Alpharetta and Johns Creek communities since 2004. We want to continue to be here to serve you and your families for many more years. We serve the best pizza, great salads, outrageously good wings, and provide family entertainment in our friendly facility. 

We greatly appreciate your support always, but especially now. Please help us rally until we can obtain our licenses.

With grateful thanks for your support, For Pepperoni's Management and Staff, 

Phil Brown - operating partner 

Pepperoni’s Tavern 

***P.S. Please write your City Council Official and/or the Mayor and tell them that you want Pepperoni’s Tavern to stay in Alpharetta. You want the City to issue our Alcohol License."

(Email addresses for Alpharetta's big wig hired leaders were provided in the post but I have chosen not to reprint them here.)  

I spoke with Mr. Brown last month and he explained to me that it is his belief that the transgressions of others were affecting his ability to operate.  The issue stems from a March 2015 raid of the restaurant in which 23 people were arrested on a variety of charges, all related to the operation of and participation in an illegal gambling event.  Over $135,000 in cash and two loaded handguns were also seized in the raid.   Although Phillip Brown was arrested in the raid, he claims he and his business partners were cleared and their charges were subsequently dropped.  

Mr. Brown also explained that he stipulated that no cash be exchanged, and was assured it would not.  In fact, cash did change hands within his establishment and with an undercover officer present and witness to the transaction, the raid occurred.  

When I spoke to Mr. Brown by phone last month, I confirmed that Pepperoni's anchors The Village at Park Bridge, a small strip center on Old Milton Parkway near its intersection with Kimball Bridge Road.  I also unfortunately became  aware via the property's website that the restaurant's space was listed as "Available" as of last month.  The status of the space as available even as Pepperoni's continues to operate, hints at the notion that the center's landlord representative, SRS Real Estate Partners, is being proactive in marketing the space with the likelihood of Pepperoni's continuing as a going concern rather small.  

This past week, Mr. Brown started a gofundme page to raise funds for the restaurant.  Brown reports that the funds raised will be used to "finance our legal efforts to stay in business."  The post does not explain with whom they intend to fight [legally], but when last I attempted to reach Brown by phone, he indicated that on the advice of his counsel he would have no further comment.  

As of last night $85 of a goal of goal of $25,000 had been raised in about a week.  

What are your thoughts on this debacle?  Should Pepperoni's be refused its liquor license because they seemingly unknowingly hosted an illegal gambling event?  Would you donate to help their fight?

Please share your thoughts below.  

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

$135k in cash was seized. Yeah, I'm sure nothing illicit was going on there.

Ham said...

I suppose there are three ways to look at this situation:

1)Innocent business that was so naive they had no idea what was going on.

2)Irresponsible business that allowed shady activities on their premises.

3)Criminal business that was complicit in these activities.

Bottom line a business is responsible for ongoing criminal activity which occurs on their property. It seems they knew or should have known what was going on.

Anonymous said...

Agree with the previous 2 posters. Out of curiosity I looked at the gofundme page which has been up for 6 days. Only 4 people have donated a total $120 with a goal of $25K. Obviously many others are finding the claim of a "misunderstanding" hard to believe as well. Bets are (pun intended) the owners knew exactly what was going on.

Anonymous said...

Basically please come save his ass. No thanks.

Anonymous said...

Oh good lord that travesty of a logo...

vespajet said...

Here's the thing, in order to get and maintain any license to sell alcohol, you've got to keep your nose clean. This is a given anywhere. Even though the owners were cleared of any wrongdoing, the fact that this happened on the premises pretty much killed any chances of renewal. It may even make it difficult for these guys to get licensed period, because this will follow them wherever they may go. I've seen gas stations that were busted for underage sales end up being sold because the owners could not survive not being allowed to sell beer for an extended period of time. Of course, some of them simply sold it to another family member that could be licensed.

Winston said...

This is total BS. It was a freaking NCAA basketball pool. Nothing more. $135,000 was seized by the police from every patron in the building. Roughly 70 people. Some people had $2 taken from them. This BUST was completely out of context and unfortunately these owners will lose their business because of it. The charges were dropped. Why should they be denied a license when charges are dropped?

Winston said...

This is total BS. It was a freaking NCAA basketball pool. Nothing more. $135,000 was seized by the police from every patron in the building. Roughly 70 people. Some people had $2 taken from them. This BUST was completely out of context and unfortunately these owners will lose their business because of it. The charges were dropped. Why should they be denied a license when charges are dropped?

Anonymous said...

Media reports said many patrons involved had previous arrests and convictions on charges of gambling, drugs, weapons, etc. Common sense says this raid occurred because other gambling events had taken place there before. Then there is the issue with the liquor license that was reportedly not in any of the owners names, but in the name of another (deceased) individual. Winston, can you add any more information to this conversation?

Pistol said...

Lets see....70 people, of which "some" had just $2 taken. Lets say "some" is 5 people, leaving 65 with stated $135K. That averages out to more than $2000/person, so yeah, that sounds like a normal, innocent NCAA pool to me.

Anonymous said...

Private party, invitation only, closed to the public for this event. Sorry but the owners had to know what was going on, and I don't care if charges were dropped (this time). There will be a next time, different location always. The gambler's lifestyle is really no different than any other illegal activity you can think of. Money may not have changed hands that night but no doubt these people got paid. Quite obvious why they don't just hand out liquor licenses to any Tom, Dick, Harry or Phillip.

Anonymous said...

"Of course, some of them simply sold it to another family member that could be licensed."

Licensing board probably keeps close tabs on these situations as well. Government "red tape" is often not the hold up its probably the lengthly investigations and due diligence when multiple owners and/or investors are involved and when the business is sold and changes hands.

So very content with my boring life when I read these stories.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with those who have convicted the owners. While it's certainly possible the owners were implicit, it is also entirely possible they had no knowledge of the actual illegal activities. I worked in bar and restaurant management for years (ago) and I still work lots of events for a large catering company. I know firsthand that despite the rules and agreement of the event hosts, there is no way to monitor every guest for illegal actions (drugs, weapons, gambling, providing alcohol to minors, sex, etc.). Since the charges were dropped, there probably was no real evidence the owners were involved other than proximity. The owners and staff were probably very busy working to provide food and beverages for the private party guests. A business owner who has survived years operating a family friendly restaurant is not likely to risk it all for an afternoon of illegality and a few dollars (relative to the investment on the business).

Some of you are quick to delight in others' pain and troubles. Please remember that when a business dies, someone loses everything, and that impacts their employees, their families and the community.

Anonymous said...

Some of you are quick to delight in others' pain and troubles. Please remember that when a business dies, someone loses everything, and that impacts their employees, their families and the community.

February 29, 2016 at 3:10 PM
--------------------------------

No one is delighting in your stupidity. Your employees and their families will be fine, but you should have thought about that before the myriad of things that you did to cause YOUR business to fail. Don't forget most of what is known are public documents. You can deny and delete Facebook comments all you want, but that won't erase the truth of what YOU have done over the years to destroy YOUR business.

Anonymous said...

The community support isn't there and the gofraudme page is a reflection of the truth.

Anonymous said...

This is when the business died

http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/alpharetta-business-had-dead-womans-name-liquor-li/nkmFJ/