At the Town Council meeting on Monday, February 5, Pizzeria Caldera lost its privilege to serve and sell alcohol for 4 months. This was the penalty for failing three consecutive identification compliance checks within a 12-month period. This penalty is the result of a change to Town Ordinance adopted by the Town Council in May of 2017.
In the five years of business previous to 2017 we had failed only one compliance check. The first two failed checks last year involved experienced and well-trained servers. Our third compliance check failure was during the Christmas holiday. This time it was me, the person who has spent six years training front-of-house staff and is TiPs certified. In my haste, on a busy day, I did not take the time to ID, and I have absolutely no excuse. Frankly, I am embarrassed that not only did I, the owner of the restaurant, trainer of our staff and father of two teenagers, fail to check the ID of an under-age patron, I put my business and the income of my staff in jeopardy. For that I am sorry. Even well-trained people can make mistakes.
Three strikes, accumulated by three different individuals, means we broke the new ordinance rules. The Town Council followed the strictly-worded ordinance and chose to levy the minimum penalty: a 120-day suspension of our liquor license. We are the first business to be subject to this new ordinance’s penalty and the Town Council needed to enforce it.
As holders of a liquor license, we agree to train our staff and make sure they do not, knowingly or unknowingly, sell alcohol to minors or do anything else to jeopardize our ability to do business. We have taken a hard look at and continued to refine our training procedures over the course of these failures. In addition to other changes, we now make TiPS (Training for Intervention Procedures) certification a requirement of all our FoH staff. I encourage all restaurant and bar owners to do the same. Yes, this can be difficult given the high rate of employee turn-over in this community and the need to increase staffing during the busy summer months.
We will survive this. And we will become a stronger business because of it. But when it comes to our food, it is business as usual. We still serve the same authentic, fresh Napoletana-style pizza, pastas, paninis and salads that we are known for. That is not going to change. While we can’t currently offer you our selection of local micro-brews or Italian wines, you are more than welcome to bring in your own. We’re calling this the “Caldera Cleanse”: a time for us to reassess our practices and for our guests to save a little money on alcohol.
After more than 20 years in this community — over six of which have been spent owning and operating Pizzeria Caldera — we know we have the support of many in the community. I am humbled by the graciousness and support already shown by those who helped in defending our liquor license and by those who have offered support since the Town Council’s decision. We are thankful for all our customers, in good times and bad.
If you are unfamiliar with the changes to the municipal code, “Title 6 Liquor Licenses and Permits”, you can find it here: https://townofjackson.com/files/6215/0411/5311/Title6_-_Liquor_Licenses_and_Permits.pdf