The opening of a new restaurant in Fenton could hinge on an upcoming vote by city council.
After a split 3-3 vote and one councilman absent, a liquor license request for the former O’Malley’s Galley site could return to Fenton City Council next month, Fenton Mayor Sue Osborn said.
Rrok Dedivanaj, who manages , would like to open a Boston’s The Gourmet Pizza franchise at 3324 Owen Road. He asked Fenton City Council for the local approval he needs to take his request to the next level, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (LCC).
However, Fenton Police Chief Rick Aro said he could not recommend approval to council, based on a background investigation on the applicant.
Dedivanaj has no criminal felony convictions, but was arrested for a misdemeanor property violation in 2010 in Novi. In addition, he had two contacts with the Fenton Police Department in 2006 and 2011, involving alcohol and fights, Aro said. He was not prosecuted for any of the incidents.
“He seemed very respectful and sincere when we met regarding his matter, however, his behavior in these incidents is a serious concern,” Aro said.
Dedivanaj said the three incidents don’t show anything positive he’s done. He’s been running Mega Coney Island for his father since 2003. He has until Feb. 28 to get a decision on the liquor license request for his own restaurant. He said he would employ at least 45 people at the Boston’s Gourmet Pizza.
Dedivanaj plans to remodel the building, describing it as a family-oriented sports restaurant. In addition, Dedivanaj has applied permits for a new outdoor service area and additional bar permit, Aro told council.
Council members Brad Jacob, Michael Piacentini and Councilwoman Pat Lockwood voted in favor of the Resort Class C liquor license transfer from its current owner, Galley O’Malley LLC, to Dedivanaj’s Rrokstar Design LLC. Osborn, Councilwoman Cheryl King and Councilman Benjamin Smith voted against it.
Lockwood said she appreciates Aro bringing the issue to council, and she has utmost respect for his recommendation. However, she supports Dedivanaj’s request because she believes there is a check and a balance, and the LCC can revoke any license at any time based on what is happening at an establishment.
In addition, Aro reported the applicant was very respectful, Lockwood said. And Dedivanaj comes from an excellent family, she said. They have a good restaurant and a great reputation in the community.
“I think that this building has set empty long enough,” Lockwood said.
It’s a good opportunity to work with an existing family and increase jobs in the community, she added.
“I don’t want to go back to 2006 and 2011,” she said. “I think we have the opportunity to move forward on this.”
Osborn said she supports Aro and his recommendation, so she would vote against the request.
Smith, who also voted no, said the request is from Dedivanaj and not his family. Smith would be more inclined to support it if the applicant had a partner.
In response to a question from Piacentini, Aro said Fenton holds annual inspections of businesses with liquor licenses. The city began these inspections to increase communication.
City attorney Stephen Schultz said, if Fenton does not approve renewal of a liquor license it triggers a number of hearings at the local and LCC levels. These hearings must take place before the state can revoke a liquor license, and there is process to follow.
Boston's The Gourmet Pizza has more than 350 locations in Canada and 50 in the United States and Mexico, according to its website. The only location in Michigan is in Shelby Township. The restaurant specializes in pizza and pasta.