Community Leaders, Police Chief Urge State To Not Renew Hamden Pizza Bar's Liquor Permit - NBC Connecticut

Community Leaders, Police Chief Urge State To Not Renew Hamden Pizza Bar's Liquor Permit

(Published Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016)

Hamden Police Chief Thomas Wydra sent a letter Wednesday to the state’s Department of Consumer Protection urging the liquor commission not to extend the permit for the Slyce Pizza Bar on Arch Street.

More than 200 residents who signed a petition and community leaders are protesting violence they say is connected to the restaurant.

But the owner, Fazlay Rabbi, told NBC Connecticut making his business suffer is not the solution.

Odell Cooper lost her 25-year-old son, Jonathan Cooper, in a shooting she said was perpetrated by a patron of the Slyce Pizza Bar in April.

“My son’s dream is gone,” she said. “I will not have the opportunity of having his dream live, but I have a death certificate.”

Cooper joined other leaders from Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut (CONECT), Hamden Mayor Curt Leng and Chief Wydra for a demonstration Wednesday afternoon outside the pizza bar.

“We’re not talking about an anomaly,” Wydra said. “We are talking about many, many incidents. More than at least five shootings, other assaults, robberies.”

Hamden police said the three shootings they responded to this year took place after 11:30 p.m. when there was a crowd outside the bar.

“We’re tired of the noise. We’re tired of the sirens,” Hamden resident Darlene Butler said. “We’re tired of the violence.”

The owner said his restaurant is not responsible for criminal activity in the area.

“It’s nothing happened in my business,” Rabbi said. “The shooting happened the other side in the parking lot.”

Rabbi said his business, which offers a $5 pizza deal, would not be viable without a license to serve.

“I cannot afford my business without sell the liquor because my food I’m selling very cheap,” he said.

Mike Smith, a regular customer, said he’d rather see an increased police presence in the neighborhood.

“This is the spot,” Smith said. “I know people getting shot, killed, but let’s be real, people get shot, killed everywhere. How are you going to blame it on the pizza spot?”

Rabbi told NBC Connecticut he has never had liquor license violations and he already employs a security guard for late nights. The current liquor license expires next month.

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