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February  24

Owner Of Cuban Pete's Arrested

11_1Cuban Pete's Restaurant owner Dominick Restaino was arrested and charged with sale, possession, and consumption of alcohol at a restaurant without a license, Montclair Police said today. Deputy Chief Perry Mayers of the Montclair PD, said Restaino was arrested on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 4 p.m. He was released from custody two hours later. Mayers said the arrest follows an investigation by the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) who took samples of the sangria served at the restaurant.  Mayers said tests by the ABC at their lab revealed that the sangria contained "significant amounts of alcohol".  Apparently, Restaino told ABC agents that he had cooked off the alcohol in the wine. The ABC has had the restaurant under investigation since January. But we told you sangria trouble was brewing back in December. When Barista called the restaurant today, an employee had no knowledge of the arrest.

February 24, 2006 in Sirens | Permalink


Dominick knew what he was doing, everybody knew what he was doing, it was just a matter of time before this happened.

Posted by: Montclairman | Feb 24, 2006 1:20:06 PM

Why does the ABC have a beef with Dominick? It seems as if there's an underlying grudge here.

Posted by: Miss Martta | Feb 24, 2006 1:27:43 PM

It seems as if there's an underlying grudge here.

How so?

Posted by: cstarling | Feb 24, 2006 1:29:54 PM

Montclair is limited with liquor licenses for a reason. This is probably to prevent other restaurant owners from trying to sell alcohol without the proper paperwork.

Dominick is a nice guy - I hope this is a slap on the wrist thing.

Posted by: hrhppg | Feb 24, 2006 1:36:00 PM

Apparently, Restaino told ABC agents that he had cooked off the the alcohol in the wine.

And the dog ate his cookware?

Posted by: cstarling | Feb 24, 2006 1:36:44 PM

CS: It just seems as if the ABC has a personal grudge against this guy (who I think is a nice, down-to-earth person trying to make a living like eveyone else). The agency seems to have been gunning for him from day one. I'm surprised they don't loot his trash looking for bottles.

Posted by: Miss Martta | Feb 24, 2006 1:38:39 PM

One thing Restaino does not have to worry about, if the item is true (might always have to put this one in, given the Barista's own recent admission about running rumors and the "hazy" reporting sometimes seen here), is losing his liquor license.

But Miss Martta, busts for violation of ABC regulations hardly constitute a "grudge." A genuinely licensed place like Richie Cecere's or Egan's pays a good penny for its license, after all, should expect that unlicensed competitors who try to get away with something "extra" alcoholically will be caught and punished appropriately.

Posted by: cathar (8T) | Feb 24, 2006 1:38:51 PM

hrhppg, Montclair is limited in its liquor licenses by the size of its population. This is not necessarily a Martha-like "good thing." There is an actual formula.

But there is also grandfathering, which explains why towns like East Rutherford, Wallington and Clifton seem by contrast to be equivalents of Dodge City vs. pokey Montclair. Without such grandfathering, even Seaside Heights might resemble Ocean Grove.

Posted by: cathar (8T) | Feb 24, 2006 1:44:17 PM

Years ago, correct me if I am wrong, Harrison, NJ, made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most bars per block or square mile(can't remember which). Either way, that's a lot of bars!

Posted by: Miss Martta | Feb 24, 2006 1:47:31 PM

Was this a subplot in Jim Carrey's MASK?

Either you have a license and you sell alcohol.
Or you don't have a license and you don't sell alcohol.

Did I miss something in the ABC rules about being a nice guy?

Posted by: Uncle Tonoose | Feb 24, 2006 1:51:35 PM

I thought he got away with selling wine by buying from a NJ wine maker (someone told me this was an exception to the liquor license law) ?

Posted by: njholdem | Feb 24, 2006 1:55:11 PM

All I know was that when I ate there last month I loved the food but was disappointed that I couldn't have a mojito. I was very confused about their liquor policy and I am sure I was not the only one. Yes, they served some kinds of liquor, but only certain types on certain nights and only certain types of mixed drinks if there was a full moon...you get the picture. My friend and I didn't feel like having to wade through this mass confusion so we just brought our own wine in.

Posted by: Miss Martta | Feb 24, 2006 1:58:55 PM

Le Carousel had a "NJ wine license" that allowed it to sell only NJ-based wines. This is different than a liquor license.

Posted by: Jim | Feb 24, 2006 1:59:31 PM

Grudge? What are you talking about? He's been breaking the law!!!!! I'm sure that Fascino would like to serve a glass of wine with their dinners, Nanna's would like to serve a bottle of beer with their pizza and Dai-Kichi would love to give you a shot of Saki with their sushi, but the can't because it's illigal! He was blatently serving alchol in the sangrias and he knows that is against the law. The fact that they were watching him is because he was the only place in town breaking the law!

Posted by: montclairman | Feb 24, 2006 2:01:01 PM

MM, the town that had the most bars per square mile was Hoboken. Close, they both begin with an H!

It is true that the number of liquor licenses is population based and goes back a long way and that there are grandfathered towns that had more than their share. I do think though that NJ liquor licensing is unnecessarily strict. San Francisco has much more liberal licensing, at least for beer and wine - every little pizza shop has beer and wine, and all the corner groceries too. I don't think it's been detrimental. The problem is that once someone has bought a liquor license for a princely sum here in NJ, if they then started opening up new ones to more towns then the value of the existing ones would go down.

Posted by: mauigirl52 | Feb 24, 2006 2:02:15 PM

Revamping our liquor license laws is an open thread of discussion in the State House. If you are a restaurant/bar owner or another interested party, you should contact your Senator with ideas and push for legislation.

If you have a concrete idea and actually have knowledge of how to amend our outdated liquor license laws please email them to this address. This is not an invitation for lots of opinions though, but I welcome real ideas.

Posted by: Nicki | Feb 24, 2006 2:03:59 PM

I'm sorry but to me a drink called sangria without the alcohol is just.not.a.sangria. If I want a Shirley Temple, I'll got to that poetry slam place on Bloomfield Avenue.

Posted by: Miss Martta | Feb 24, 2006 2:04:47 PM

"...outdated liquor license laws..."

Indeed! This reminds me of what my grandparents went through during Prohibition.

Posted by: Miss Martta | Feb 24, 2006 2:06:32 PM

Miss Martta: You are 100% right it's not a sangria without the good stuff in it. The fact of the matter here is the New Jersey State law. The only way he can sell sangria there is if the patron buys a whole bottle of wine (New Jersey made wine only because that's the special permit he has)and then they mix the sangria right then and return the unused wine to the patron. This special permit (NJ wine sellers permit) is special to promote NJ wineries. Dominick is trying to dance around the law with the sangrias, this permit does not allow you to pre-mix the wine and serve by the glass, it's whole sealed bottles only. Would I like more Montclair restaurants to serve alcohol, yes, but for now the law is the law and if one place starts bending the law then they have an unfair advantage and others will stare doing the same thing.

Posted by: montclairman | Feb 24, 2006 2:13:56 PM

Suicide bombers have been foiled in an attempt to blow up the world's largest oil processing plant in Saudi Arabia.

Aren't we awfully close to Elizabeth?

Posted by: Teapot | Feb 24, 2006 2:15:22 PM

does anyone know the outcome of the leaf blower meeting last night?

Posted by: Teapot | Feb 24, 2006 2:16:37 PM

"Without such grandfathering, even Seaside Heights might resemble Ocean Grove."

Interesting you said that. I was thinking the opposite - Ocean Grove could turn into Seaside Heights. Seaside is perfect for a drunken night on the boardwalk (though I can never get drunk enough to try that slingshot ride). Ocean Grove is perfect for a quiet shore weekend, and some boutique shopping. ***Product placement in the post***This is my place to stay…http://www.henryrichardinn.com

I don't know anything about why they limit the licenses, I do know they cost a fortune in Montclair compared to other towns. I think it's a good thing, compared to the bar-on-every-corner option, and I'm a girl who likes her bars.

Also, each state has it’s own laws. In VT you have to go to a state licensed liquor store that only sells liquor. In PA you have to go to a beer distributor for beer, and only beer. Down south they have drive-thru keg stores, shaped like kegs! (I’m glad we don’t have that option!)

Posted by: hrhppg | Feb 24, 2006 2:18:41 PM

Yes, Teapot, no leaf blowers are allowed in eating establishments without a license. However, you may BYOL.

Posted by: Miss Martta | Feb 24, 2006 2:19:16 PM


Posted by: Teapot | Feb 24, 2006 2:21:05 PM

Miss Martta, NJ's liquor laws, in the main, are hardly "outdated." Rather, this is the state of "local option," for closing hours and even in whether to sell liquor at all. But around here you can drink to 3 or even 4AM, which you cannot do at all in most states. And in a few towns, you can even drink 24 hours daily. The restaurant lobby usually opposes more licenses in towns where a few well-favored inns already do quite well, but in towns that have grown wildly the last 10-20 years wants more licenses. It's a tricky situation, but in general a much more liberated scene than found in, say, Massachusetts or South Carolina.

Whatever, this is not quite what your grandparents (or my parents) went through during Prohibition. Back then, too, as my sainted mother informed me, The Notch was in fact a speakeasy.

Posted by: cathar (8T) | Feb 24, 2006 2:21:29 PM

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