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NESHANNOCK TOWNSHIP Liquor license approved for restaurant in plaza



Published: Fri, January 14, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The new owners have invested more than $1 million in improvements for Calls Plaza.

NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Neshannock Township supervisors approved a liquor license transfer from Sydney Inc., the owners of the Blue Moon Inn in Bessemer, to Calls Plaza Restaurant Inc.

Merchant Equity Group, based in New York City, bought Calls Plaza 18 months ago. The company owns several strip plazas, restaurants and hotels in seven states.

Jeffrey Gwin of Shenango Township, managing partner for Merchant Equity Group, said Calls Plaza Restaurant Inc. plans to locate a family-style restaurant in the plaza with alcohol as a complement to the food.

He said that they are planning for alcohol sales to be less that the national average of 20 percent of food sales.

He added that although he does not have definite plans for operating hours, the restaurant should close shortly after the evening dinner hour.

Public questions

Township residents Bill and Sarah Dunkle both voiced their concern over too many eat-in liquor establishments.

"Why can't you have a restaurant without a liquor license?" said Sarah Dunkle. "I personally am against the consumption of alcohol. I can't eat there with alcohol."

Township resident Ed Reiber owns Edwards Restaurant and Lounge in New Castle. He asked Gwin if he was going to operate the restaurant.

Gwin said that although he will not operate the restaurant from day to day, his company would have an enormous amount of input.

"We have Neshannock Township's interest on the line," Gwin said. He added that his company has already invested more than $1 million in improving Calls Plaza.

The Social Security Office is locating in the plaza and plans are to find a grocer to replace the former Ralph's Supermarket.

Uncomfortable decision

Supervisor John DiCola said it is an uncomfortable decision when there are township residents who oppose or approve on issues.

Atty. Mark E. Kozar of Pittsburgh, representing Calls Plaza Restaurant Inc. in the liquor license transfer, said that because a liquor license is not detrimental to the health, welfare, peace and morals of the community, substantial evidence would have to be shown to support why the liquor license should not be approved.

DiCola said supervisors are not in a position to dictate how much business comes into the township. He explained that even though the liquor license is approved, the next step would be to have plans approved by the zoning officer.

Gwin said he hopes to have the restaurant plans within the next two weeks.




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