Fox Point grants liquor license despite police chief's concerns
New pizza restaurant owner had violation seven years ago
Fox Point — Going against the recommendation of the police chief, the Fox Point Village Board on Tuesday voted unanimously in favor of granting a beer and wine license to the operator of a new pizza restaurant.
Bekim Elmazi, owner of PizzaNetto recently filed an application for a Class "B" fermented malt beverage and Class "C" wine license for his new establishment within the RiverPoint Village Shopping Center, 8799 N. Port Washington Road.
While performing a background check, Police Chief Thomas Czaja said his search did not lead to a criminal history for Elmazi. However, Czaja did learn another of Elmazi's establishments, Sal's Pizza, was cited by the Hartford Police Department for selling alcohol to a minor in 2007.
Elmazi himself was cited by Hartford officials for not displaying a bartender's license on the premises of his establishment that same year.
In his license application with the village, Elmazi indicated he had not previously been convicted of any offenses in the past. When Czaja informed Elmazi of the incidents, Elmazi said he forgot about the ticket he received.
"This incident may have been an oversight, but I have reservations recommending Mr. Elmazi as the agent for this license," Czaja wrote in a memo. "The Fox Point Police Department takes the responsibility for enforcing alcoholic beverage laws very seriously and routinely conducts compliance checks."
When the board took the issue up Tuesday, Elmazi shared the complete details of his side of the story.
"I'm not a criminal," Elmazi said. "I think this has been a huge misunderstanding."
Elmazi, who hails from Brooklyn, N.Y., said the incident in question occurred on the opening weekend of his first pizza shop when he moved to Wisconsin. The upcoming PizzaNetto eatery will be his third. He still operates the Hartford pizzeria and in recent years opened a shop in Cedarburg.
While being queried by the board, Elmazi emphasized alcohol sales were a small portion of his business plan. He said only he or the store manager would be designated to sell alcoholic beverages on the premises of the establishment in Fox Point.
"Beer is not my big seller," Elmazi said. "I price it high and keep it behind the counter. I don't want people to hang out and get drunk."
After deliberating extensively on the issue, the board sided with Elmazi.
"The nature of the violation is quite minor, and it did happen seven years ago," Trustee Eric Fonstad said. "I think we should grant the license.
Trustee Douglas Frazer agreed and said he was further comforted by the fact Elmazi is a Bayside resident.
"This board isn't anti-business," Frazer said. "But over drinking and underage drinking is serious business. Still, (the 2007 offense) has not been repeated. The applicant obviously has taken steps to rectify the situation."
Elmazi was previously granted a conditional-use permit by the village for his actual establishment. In warmer months, Elmazi is permitted to offer outdoor seating. However, alcoholic beverages can only be sold inside his establishment.
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