GATES, N.Y. (WROC) — The owner of Veneto Wood Fired Pizza said Wednesday the liquor license for the restaurant on Buffalo Road was suspended by the New York State Liquor Authority.
According to owner Donald Swartz, two SLA agents entered the establishment around 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.
“One of the males asked to see our liquor license and I took him to where it was posted, he took a picture of it,” Swartz said in a press release. “He then said that we were in an orange zone and could not be open for dine in. I explained to him that the information I had, the orange zone was north of our location. He explained that we are just barely in the orange zone. I told him I would not serve any additional customers that evening and would talk to legal counsel. They left without incident.”
Swartz said no additional customers were served that evening and the restaurant was closed for the remainder of the holiday weekend as they sought advice from counsel.
The next day, Swartz appeared on Fox News, claiming Gov. Andrew Cuomo was treating Western New York restaurants unfairly in regards to COVID-19 restrictions. Veneto’s East Avenue location had joined a lawsuit against the governor in an effort to reopen orange zone restaurants for indoor dining.
Following a State Supreme Court ruling in Erie County on indoor dining earlier this month, New York state changed its guidance for COVID-19 orange zones restaurants to operate under yellow zone rules, which included indoor dining.
Swartz says officials from the SLA called on January 2 to say the liquor license was suspended for Veneto’s westside location. He says Veneto’s was targeted because of the Fox News appearance.
“I do not think the timing of this was coincidental,” Swartz said in a press release. “Some business owners were reluctant to join the restaurant lawsuit from fear of retaliation, specifically those with liquor licenses. It is unfortunate that the SLA holds this much power. They are able to act with little to no due process rights.”
Swartz says his attorney will file for a temporary restraining order until a hearing with the SLA is scheduled.