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State cites restaurants for early start

Monday, February 12, 2001

By Johnna A. Pro, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Agents from the state Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement weren't watching the implosion of Three Rivers Stadium yesterday morning.

They were busy citing operators of five Mount Washington restaurants for opening too early and the Gateway Clipper Fleet for selling alcohol before hours.

"I didn't know about this law and I'm pretty knowledgeable. I've been doing this for 19 years," said Looch, the single-monikered manager of the Grandview Saloon. "I think it's totally ridiculous. It has to be one of those laws that's totally obscure."

According to a state police incident report, Monterrey Bay Fish Grotto, Georgetowne Inn, Grandview Saloon, LeMont and Pasquarelli's all were open before 7 a.m. in violation of the state liquor laws even though they weren't selling liquor. All face administrative charges by the bureau.

In a separate report, agents said that liquor sales were made on the Gateway Clipper Fleet before the allowed hours.

LCE officials could not be reached last night.

Gateway Clipper Fleet owner John E. Connelly said he knew nothing about the citations issued to the Gateway Party Liner, Liberty Belle, River Belle, Keystone Belle and Majestic. He said he was aware that state law forbids early sales of alcohol on Sunday, and was surprised by the accusations.

Guy Cristiano, a maitre d' at LeMont, said he was flabbergasted when he learned what had happened. Patrons at the restaurant enjoyed a breakfast buffet that cost $50 per person but no alcohol was sold, because that would have violated the prohibition on Sunday liquor sales before 11 a.m., he said.

However, no one gave a second thought to opening at 6 a.m., he said.

"We wouldn't have been able to get the people in here on time if we hadn't opened," said Cristiano, whose staff took 600 reservations.

"We weren't selling alcohol. We didn't think it would hurt anything to get people in early. I think it's pretty dumb considering it was a special occasion."

At the Grandview Saloon, which opened at 6:30 a.m. for an alcohol-free breakfast, Looch said the staff was particularly irked by the LCE's action because everyone knew the restaurant would be open.

"You'd think they would call and say, 'Hey, you're not allowed to do that.' I guarantee you there's not an owner on this hill or in this city that knew that you weren't allowed to open before 7 a.m."

Staff writer Gary Rotstein contributed to this report.

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