“It doesn’t look good,” owner Donald Swartz said. “It doesn’t look good. It seems like retaliation.”
Swartz says agents of the State Liquor Authority flagged him on New Year’s Eve for operating in an orange zone. Swartz had closed his other Veneto restaurant in Rochester to indoor dining but insists his research indicated his part of Gates was a yellow zone, where he would be allowed to serve indoors and he was hoping to straighten things out.
— Veneto’s Wood Fired Pizza & Pasta (@venetos17) January 27, 2021
“They just came in and, with no due process, stripped us from the ability to serve,” he exclaimed.
Swartz reluctantly articulates another theory about the cause of the conflict. He had been a plaintiff in an ultimately successful lawsuit by Buffalo area restaurants demanding the right to open and he had been speaking out about it in an interview on Fox News.
“Go on national television and then, within 24 hours, liquor license gone,” Swartz said. “Something doesn’t seem right.”
Now he says his lawyers plan to file for a court order to get his license back immediately while he appeals the liquor authority’s decision.
“Tell me what I did wrong so I can correct it,” he said. “Or If the state made a mistake and we were categorized wrong, listed wrong, let’s come to some conclusion.”
News10NBC has reached out to the Liquor Authority but there has been no response.
Swartz is grateful to be able to serve again, in Gates and at his restaurant in Rochester, but he says the prospect of Italian food with no wine has chased customers away.
“Unfortunately, we’ve had people come in and we explain to them the situation they understand,” Swartz said. “But they leave saying, ‘As soon as you’re back up, we’re going to come support you.’”
Swartz says he hopes to see action, and possibly a temporary court order to get his liquor license back immediately, within the next couple of days.