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Council Deadlocked on Liquor License for New Fenton Restaurant

Mega Coney Island manager would like to open a Boston’s The Gourmet Pizza franchise on Owen Road.

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.

Julie January 26, 2012 at 12:54 AM
Typical "small town/small minded" politics at work here, I'm afraid. What local businesses feel threatened by a new restaurant, and who do they know to put the "squeeze" on the council? Give him the opportunity to prove himself. I seriously doubt he will risk his investment to booze it up! Lord knows, we need some variety in this town!
Jessica Glass January 27, 2012 at 03:33 PM
I would love another pizza place as well Jason. I can see the above point about how is Fenton supposed to grow & attract businesses with problems getting liquor licenses. The brewery now this place having problems. Not sure of all the facts but just from what I see in the news, seems like a pain.
John Stork January 28, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Seems like the City Council is just looking for excuses to keep businesses out of Fenton. Funny, I thought their job was the other way around. Mr. Dedivanaj has a couple of incidents that didn't even result in a charge, let alone conviction, and none would be felonies anyway. His family runs another excellent place in town. Hope they can resonsider and break the deadlock.
Fenton Tiger January 29, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Not sure this establishment is a need given the volume of development we are experiencing in comparison to the other areas in the state and country. We have an aggressive/positive development outlook and good things happening all around. Now is the time to be selective and ensure we are not allowing anything in which doesn't fit the model. If Dedivanaj was smart, he would grab an associate and put the LL in their name anyway. Frankly, I am glad to see the scrutiny and I am thankful for someone looking beyond the end of their nose to the long term impact any development would have as opposed to letting a dollar sign gloss over their judgment.
stephanie pytlowanyj January 29, 2012 at 06:39 PM
I don't know Dedivanaj but have to applaud him for being honest and taking the high road to obtain the liquor license. It's been 2 or 3 years since that building has been empty and it's past time to have a business there. Having an empty building just drags that area down. Also, are taxes still being paid on it? With the location so very close to the expressway it won't be just the locals frequenting there it will be others. The more people that get off the highway to visit Fenton the better....they might buy gas, etc.,

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