Solvang Brewing Company and Alisal Cellars have been issued temporary suspension notices by the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control for various violations, one dating back to June 2019.
The suspensions affect sales of alcoholic beverages only, and the notices were posted on the window fronts of both Solvang businesses. The suspension does not affect Solvang Brewing Company's Lompoc location.
"These had nothing to do with the pandemic," ABC Public Information Officer John Carr said, noting the suspensions stem from violation of separate statutes of the California Business and Professions Code. "These violations occurred long before the pandemic began."
Stephen Renfrow, owner of Solvang Brewing Company, and Cesar Jimenez, owner of Alisal Cellars, signed stipulation and waiver agreements waiving their rights to a hearing and agreeing to accept ABC’s penalties, according to Carr.
A fee was not imposed, he said.
“We were having such an amazing eight months before this all happened. Now we’re fighting to pay our rent and just trying to stay afloat.”
Alisal Cellars, located at 448 Alisal Road, Suite A in downtown Solvang, was issued a 10-day license suspension on May 12 for violating California Business and Professions Code 25632, by permitting consumption of alcoholic beverages on the premises after hours, between 0200 and 0600, said Carr.
Since the posted suspension the bar/restaurant, which will celebrate its second year in business, has continued selling food but has ceased alcohol sales through May 22.
Alisal Cellars Manager Juan Diaz said the violation, which he insists was a misunderstanding, occurred on Aug. 12, 2019.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom relaxed county reopening criteria on Monday, a move he said will allow most of the state’s 58 counties to begin allowing dining in restaurants and other services.
"It happened a long time ago," said Diaz, explaining that the business was not selling alcohol at that time but instead, employees were cleaning the facility while enjoying an end-of-shift beer which he says is customary in the industry. "We were told we would receive a letter with a date of suspension but that never came. We're not sure why they chose to suspend our license now, especially during the pandemic. But we're definitely going to follow the rules."
With regard to Solvang Brewing Company, ABC agents posted a 30-day suspension on the business premises on May 15, stemming from two violations recorded on June 17, 2019. Carr attributed the amount of time it took to issue the suspension to "due process" unique to each case.
Despite having more than 30 combined years of hospitality experience between the two of them, the Cherneys could not have prepared themselves for the unprecedented times they are now facing.
The Mission Drive brewpub's failure to maintain or produce records was found to be in violation of Section 25753 of the California Business and Professions Code, and "a failure to register a beer" violated Section 25616 of the California Business and Professions Code, resulting in the suspension of their alcohol license until June 12.
"If you make a product (beer) then that label needs to be registered," Carr said. "Section 25200 B&P requires that a package or sealed container of beer have a label affixed and the brand must be registered with the Department prior to the sale of the beer in California."
Though the infraction does not affect the brewery's ability to sell food, ABC states the 30-day suspension will be indefinite until the requested records are produced.
Renfrow could not be reached for comment, but posted a letter "setting the record straight" on the door of Solvang Brewing Company above the notice of suspension stating in part:
"In the state of California, there is a law that states if you have a business that serves alcohol and has residents less than 100 feet from your establishment your music can not be auditable beyond the boundaries of your licensed premises.
Prior to the forces Covid19 closure, we were notified by an agent of the Alcohol Beverage Control he could here our music beyond the boundaries of our licensed promises. For this violation we had a choice to pay a very expensive fine or close our doors for 30 days with no fine.
Because we have already been forced to close due to Covid19 and lay off all our staff, we contacted the ABC and asked to just take the 30 day suspension rather than pay a hefty fine for music and that we have already been seriously financially hurt by this Covid19'closure."
The 9.7 acre buildout is currently underway and projected to go live by the end of the year.
Last Sunday was Mother’s Day, a day most of us appreciate for taking our beloved mom out to a restaurant for a lovely dinner. In fact it’s the busiest day of the year for restaurants. But this year, we couldn't take her out, nor should we have been gathering family and friends together to celebrate her life with a toast of fine wine.
Lisa André covers Valley Life for Santa Ynez Valley News.
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