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Commissioners OK Restaurant Liquor License Transfer

SANATOGA PA – The owner of a restaurant proposed for the heart of Sanatoga village, construction of which could begin within weeks, won a full license Tuesday (Jan. 3, 2012) to serve and sell beer and alcoholic beverages there once it opens.

Bella Italia Restaurant Owner Vito Cilluffo, left, and real estate licensee Sal Gambone, address commissionrs during Tuesday's hearing

Although the Board of Commissioners’ vote to grant the liquor license for Bella Italia Restaurant – to be built at 2209 E. High St. – ultimately was unanimous, newest commissioner Stephen Klotz earlier tried to solicit owner Vito Cilluffo’s pledge not to sell beer to off-the-street purchasers. Cilluffo declined, but assured board members he would closely monitor when and to whom beer was sold.

“People running in-and-out, getting six packs of beer, is my concern,” Klotz explained. “I don’t want this place to be a six-pack heaven.”

Real estate licensee Sal Gambone, who negotiated the transfer of the license from a Norristown firm to Bella Italia and who appeared with Cilluffo during the board’s extended hearing on the license, told commissioners the restaurant was intended to be run as “a quality place” with a full-service menu. Its policy, he added, would be to sell beer primarily to patrons who also ordered food.

To forego the incremental portion of business that other six-pack sales might produce would be unwise, Gambone suggested.

Cilluffo and his representatives have spent more than 18 months trying to get the restaurant built just west of the now-vacant Rite Aid retail store on East High. Much of the delay was created as Cilluffo attempted to satisfy commissioners’ desires to deal with an alley exit at the northwest corner of the property.

None of the commissioners who dealt with Bella Italia in that time raised any concerns about the liquor license, although they were aware one would be sought.

“We really want to encourage new business in our township,” board President Jonathan Spadt said, somewhat apologetically, “but I certainly understand Commissioner Klotz’s concerns. Let’s say that we’re going to closely watch what happens” after the license takes effect, he suggested.

“I’m happy. It sounds to me like you’re going to run a higher-end business,” Klotz concluded. Klotz himself offered the resolution under which the license was approved.

A contractor’s trailer that was recently moved onto the property, and a sign announcing the name of an excavating company, are indicators work on the project may soon get under way.


Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ Jan. 3 meeting):

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