WESTERLY — The Licensing Board on Thursday granted a food and alcoholic beverage license to the new owner of Famous Pizza in the East Avenue Plaza. The board had previously tabled action on the license when a resident raised questions about a storage structure attached to the rear of the restaurant.
Acting on the recommendation of the town’s zoning officer, the board voted unanimously to grant a Class B Victualer license to Dennis Billias, who plans to reopen the restaurant. Issuance of the license is contingent on Billias obtaining all of the other approvals he needs.
Fairview Avenue property owner Kevin Colosi had asked the board, during its May 24 hearing, to hold off on the application. A structure had been built to extend from the back of the building to cover two walk-in coolers. Part of the addition was built in the 1980s, and it was extended by Mario Celico, who ran the restaurant from February 2014 to April 2017.
Celico, who is serving his second consecutive term on the Town Council, acknowledged that he had not obtained a permit for the work.
Colosi said he was concerned because the structure was built without a permit and because the coolers were left open after Celico closed the restaurant. Colosi also raised the possibility that people had used drugs and lived in the coolers and under the structure’s roof after the restaurant closed.
Zoning Officer Nathan Reichert confirmed that Celico had not received a permit, but in a letter to the board he said that Egidio and Joe Luzzi, who bought the plaza in early 2017, had agreed to reduce the structure to its original size.
The Luzzis, Reichert wrote, were “working toward compliance. At this time the zoning office recommends that the license be allowed to move forward and approval be conditioned upon the zoning violation being rectified.”
William Nardone, the lawyer who represents the Luzzis and their East Avenue Plaza LLC, attended the meeting Thursday and said that his clients should be finished with the work within a week.
On Thursday the Luzzis said they had made a significant investment in the plaza property and were working with new tenants. They disputed Colosi’s contention that the area behind the restaurant was frequented by drug users.