Search Results for: sunny sharma

STUNNER: BORO DROPS SINGH CHARGE

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Just hours after a municipal court hearing on the latest allegations of an alleged sale of alcohol to a minor, Red Bank police are dropping the charges, redbankgreen has learned.

Borough attorney Tom Hall tells us that Javier Lopez-Ruiz, the 19-year-old Middletown man arrested for buying beer from the store on July 10, has recanted his story about not being carded by store employee Balvinder Singh.

That leaves the borough without any testimony linking Lopez-Ruiz to Singh, and thus, no case.

“We had to do the right thing,” Hall told redbankgreen early this afternoon. “I can’t prove any further violations of the law.”

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SINGH: ‘IT’S ON THE TAPE’

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By LINDA G. RASTELLI

The case against Best Liquors clerk Balvinder Singh, accused of selling beer to a 19-year-old two weeks after the Borough Council revoked the store’s alcohol license for sales to minors, was adjourned in Red Bank Municipal Court this morning.

A date for the trial, which is to be prosecuted by borough attorney Tom Hall instead of the borough prosecutor, has not yet been scheduled.

Singh, in an interview afterward, said he would plead not guilty to the charge.

“He had a Mexican ID, and it’s on the tape,” he told redbankgreen, referring to customer Javier Lopez-Ruiz, the Middletown resident who was arrested July 10 for illegally buying beer. Lopez-Ruiz implicated Singh, police contend.

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ANOTHER BUST IMPERILS BEST LEGAL CASE

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You’d think, as one wag at Borough Hall puts it, that anybody who works at Best Liquors “would be carding his own grandmother” these days, with the store’s license revocation up on appeal before the state Alcoholic Beverage Control division.

But just two weeks after the Borough Council unanimously voted to yank its license, Best is in trouble anew for exactly the kind of alleged practices that have landed it in its present legal jeopardy.

On Tuesday night, Red Bank police arrested a 19-year-old borough man “as he had just purchased alcohol” at the Leighton Avenue establishment, according to a statement issued by Capt. Stephen McCarthy. Police also cited store employee Balvinder Singh for making the sale. Both men are due in municipal court July 19.

The episode has prompted borough officials to move for an immediate end to liquor sales at the store.

“Simply put, this licensee cannot be trusted to run its business in accordance with the law,” borough attorney Tom Hall said in legal papers filed with the ABC yesterday.

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LAWYER: STORE FACES ‘DEATH PENALTY’

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By LINDA G. RASTELLI

Red Bank’s legal offensive against the controversial Best Liquors store on Leighton Avenue is the economic equivalent of a ‘death penalty’ case, its lawyer argued Thursday night at the conclusion of a three-hour hearing.

The session wrapped up at about 10p without a decision by the Borough Council, which is sitting in judgment. The council instead opted to adjourn until next Thursday at 4p, when it is expected to rule on whether the store’s record of illicit booze and cigarette sales to minors merits action. Download best_liquors_charges_and_specifications.pdf

If so, the penalties, if any, could be as severe as a revocation of the store’s license to sell liquor, Mayor Pasquale Menna said earlier this week.

That possible fate is not lost on either Sunny Sharma, who owns the store, or his lawyer, Samuel ‘Skip’ Reale Jr., who ripped the case made against the store by Borough Attorney Tom Hall.

Reale said Hall was relying on “second- and third-hand hearsay” in an effort to shut the store down.

“Hall is basically asking for the death penalty,” Reale said in a summation to the council. “Is the evidence you’ve heard the type of evidence you’d want somebody to use in determing whether your business should continue or not?”

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BEST LIQUORS CASE TO RESUME

The Red Bank Borough Council has set June 14 as the resumption date of its hearing in the Best Liquors license matter.

The hearing, a special session of the council, will begin at 5p.

Borough Attorney Tom Hall, who is prosecuting the case, tells redbankgreen he expects that the hearing will conclude that night.

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LIQUOR LICENSE HEARING POSTPONED

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A long-anticipated hearing on the future of the Best Liquors alcohol license was postponed yesterday before it began.

Two members of the Red Bank Borough Council— John Curley and Michael DuPont— were out sick, and a third, RJ Bifani, recused himself because of a business relationship he had with the store’s owner, Sunny Sharma, according to Mayor Pasquale Menna.

No date for a resumption of the case has yet been determined.

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THE CODE OF SEATING ARRANGEMENTS

A presentation on code enforcement matters drew a pretty sparse and rather muted crowd Wednesday night.

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But redbankgreen was distracted, we admit, by who showed up and sat together at the table nearest Borough Administrator Stanley Sickels as he spoke to 30 or so residents in the River Street Commons auditorium.

Sunny Sharma (in hat), owner of Best Liquors on Leighton Avenue, sat opposite John Ross (in green t-shirt) and John Tyler (in orange shirt). Tyler and Ross are Leighton Avenue homeowners who have been demanding that the borough put Sharma out of business over noise, litter and other violations.

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BEST NIGHT’S SLEEP AFTER SHUTDOWN

“Blissfully quiet,” says one resident.

“It’s been so peaceful,” says another.

Those were two assessments of life at the corner of Leighton Avenue and Catherine Street yesterday, 24 hours after Red Bank officials shut down the controversial Best Liquors store for fire code violations.

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And yet, there was a lingering concern among residents that the recently elevated attention being paid by local officials to the store might vaporize after next Tueday’s election, and that proprietor Sunny Sharma might soon be back in business, attracting his usual noisy and messy clientele.

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RED BANK: LIQUOR STORE TO REOPEN

228 drs. parker 042816 2Closed for two years, paperwork filed in connection with the sale of the former Yogi’s Liquors license indicates the store will also offer groceries and deli products. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03A liquor store on Red Bank’s West Side that’s been closed for two years appears to be gearing up to reopen.

The borough council last week approved the sale of packaged-goods license of Yogi’s Liquors, at Drs. James Parker Boulevard and Leighton Avenue, and documents on file indicate the new owner intends to reopen the business there.

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RED BANK: LITTLE KITCH ORGANIC DREAMS BIG

kitch 092815 8Kitch Organic partners Rick Ivone, left, and Joe Durso beneath the pyramidal skylight in their new Leighton Avenue eatery, which features its own garden along Catherine Street, below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

kitch 092815 3With a skylight reminiscent of the Louvre illuminating the impeccable interior and a design-conscious herb-and-vegetable garden out back, the new Kitch Organic restaurant on Red Bank’s West Side would stand out in any town.

But the fact that it replaces a liquor store remembered without fondness for serving minors while the occasional hooker milled about outside adds a dimension of change to a project that its owner hope will have all kinds of reach: social, economic, and more than anything else, nutritional.

Yeah, Rick Ivone and Joe Durso are thinking big. And they’ve put their money on the table to make it happen.

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RED BANK: ORGANIC TAKEOUT GOOD TO GO

kitch organic 090414 1A pyramidal glass skylight and other touches would transform the former deli and liquor store shown below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

kitch organic 090414 2Red Bank’s zoning board gave unanimous approval Thursday night to a plan by Kitch Organic to turn a vacant neighborhood deli and liquor store on the West Side into an organic take-out restaurant.

The new business will deliver pre-ordered meals, allow for pick-ups but offer no onsite dining at the former home of Best Liquors, co-owner Rick Ivone told the board.

The dowdy one-story building, at the corner of Leighton Avenue and Catherine Street, will also get a a makeover that includes a glass pyramid skylight, extensive plantings and an herb garden out back.

“Aesthetically and functionally, it will be far superior to what’s there now,” planning consultant James Higgins told the board.

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TAKE-OUT TROUBLE?

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The West Side property that’s the site of Best Liquors has been home to retail businesses for 90 years. For a good part of that history, it was a grocery, but since 1965, it’s been a liquor retailer, says store owner Pankaj ‘Sunny’ Sharma.

Sharma, who’s 30 years old, drives a red sports car and could pass for a matinee idol, has had the store for just three years. But in that time, he says, he’s been diligent about upgrading and maintaining the property.

He matched public funds to pay for a colorful mural along the store’s exposed southern wall. He installed halogen lighting outside and a camera system so he could keep an eye on things from his cash register. Recently, after complaints from neighbors, he hired someone to come by twice a day to pick up wrappers and other debris that customers drop on the sidewalk.

“All of this stuff, the store didn’t have before,” says Sharma. The effect, he says, has been to improve both the look of the corner and the safety. “Even the police chief said that in the last five years, crime is down 70 percent at this corner,” he says.

But Sharma’s neighbors, all of them homeowners, aren’t buying it. Citing a welter of complaints about noise, littering, public urination and prostitution that they say is getting worse—and which they link directly to the store’s presence—they insist that it’s time for the shop’s long run to end.

No matter what it takes, they say, it’s time to shut Sunny down.

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