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HUNTINGTON BEACH : State Yanks Restaurant's Liquor License After Complaints

June 07, 1995|DEBRA CANO

Mazzotti's Italian Restaurant, one of Huntington Beach's best-known dining spots, can no longer serve wine, beer or mixed drinks.

Citing complaints about noise and allegations of code violations, the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control withdrew Mazzotti's temporary liquor license this week.

The restaurant's owners vowed Tuesday to continue serving pizza, pasta and calzone--made using the recipe of Lenny Mazzotti's Italian-born grandmother--and to offer customers cappuccino and Italian mineral waters to drink.

"They can take our license, but they can't take our food," co-owner Mazzotti said. "The bottom line is we're going back to the basics. We're going back to what my grandmother taught me: Serve food that people are satisfied with."

"It's really easy to make a mixed drink," he said, "but not everyone can make a Lenny Mazzotti's calzone."

Police said that the downtown restaurant, on Walnut Avenue near Main Street, has generated complaints from nearby residents about overcrowding, loud music and disturbances.

The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control seldom revokes temporary permits, said Marianne Eckhoff, supervising investigator for the Santa Ana district office of the agency.

In Mazzotti's case, she said, the temporary permit was in force because of a change of ownership. When Susie Newman became a partner in the restaurant, she said, the restaurant was issued a temporary license pending investigation of the new application to offer alcoholic beverages.

That application is still pending, Eckhoff said.

Newman, a former city planning commissioner, said the restaurant is being remodeled to gain a new ambience that will attract diners rather than drinkers.

"It has to look dining-friendly," Newman said. "We're going to try to entice hip young professionals and families who like good food. . . . Mazzotti's is undergoing a transformation, but we won't accept defeat."

Mazzotti, 39, opened the restaurant in 1976 as a takeout place. He said Tuesday that he hopes the restaurant will be able to serve beer and wine again.

Meanwhile, workers were transforming the restaurant's interior, and replacing the beer taps with a cappuccino machine. The restaurant, decorated with autographed guitars from rock 'n' roll musicians, platinum records and other memorabilia, will now stay open 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays, Mazzotti said, and will serve breakfast beginning June 15.

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