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Four restaurants found in violation of liquor code

By Grace Lovins

Birmingham city commissioners conducted the annual review of liquor licenses granted to various establishments at their meeting on Monday, February 27, approving the renewal of most business’ licenses and setting a public hearing to consider whether commissioners want to file objections for four establishments found in violation of city code.

After 220 Merrill restaurant was removed from the list of those found in violation, 37 establishments in the city were up for renewal of a liquor license. Without deliberation, the five commissioners present unanimously voted to approve the renewal of everyone on the list with the exception of La Strada Kitchen and Bar.

Mayor Therese Longe pulled La Strada Kitchen and Bar from the initial list of businesses ready for approval, citing her husband’s business relationship with the restaurant. She recused herself from the vote, and mayor pro tem Elaine McLain continued the meeting. The four commissioners then unanimously approved the renewal of La Strada’s license.

Four establishments were found in violation of the city’s code: Casa Pernoi, Whole Foods Market, Toast and Bistro Joe’s, found inside Papa Joe’s. According to Birmingham Police Chief Scott Grewe, the department has a minor that works with the department, going around to various establishments that sell liquor to see if they check ID’s. All four were caught selling alcohol to this minor and were issued citations and informed they need to take corrective action.

While there was no follow-up that these establishments need to complete with the police department, they will each have the opportunity to present any corrective action they’ve implemented to the commission during an upcoming public hearing, said city attorney Mary Kucharek. From there, it’s up to the city commission's discretion if they wish to file an objection with the Michigan Liquor Control Commission.

Before putting the action to a vote, commissioner Andrew Haig noted that Toast has been found in violation of their special land use permit agreement on multiple occasions, noting it seems to indicate a certain pattern of behavior. According to assistant city manager Jana Ecker, the restaurant has repeatedly added several seats to the interior and has been reprimanded, only to add more seats and be reprimanded again. Kucharek noted the commission will have the chance to bring this up during the public hearing as well.

Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve the renewal of liquor licenses for all establishments minus La Strada Kitchen and Bar and set a public hearing for March 27 to consider if the commission will file objections for the renewal of the four establishments found in violation.

Commissioners Clinton Baller and Katie Schafer were absent.


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