Update 2/22/2018: This article has been updated to include information from Alcoholic Beverage Control spokesperson John Carr.
Pappy’s Grill & Sports Bar, located at 2367 Telegraph Ave., will no longer be serving alcoholic beverages — for now.
The business recently had its alcoholic beverage license suspended after the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, or ABC, observed the business serving alcohol to minors. The notice of suspension was issued Feb. 15.
Passersby will notice a sign on the door that reads, “Notice of Suspension: Alcoholic Beverage Licenses Issued for These Premises Have Been Suspended By Order of the State Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Act.”
“The license has been suspended for 30 days and indefinitely thereafter until the transfer of the license has been completed,” said John Carr, a spokesperson for ABC, in an email. “The license for Pappy’s Grill Inc. was suspended because the business sold alcohol to minors on three separate occasions within a three-year period.”
ABC investigates businesses that sell alcohol to ensure that the selling does not jeopardize public safety or negatively impact the community. These investigations are conducted through “enforcement action,” according to Carr, which involves a decoy agent going into businesses and attempting to buy alcohol. This process can also include an agent personally witnessing the sale of liquor to minors within the establishment.
This isn’t the first time the owner of Pappy’s, Alex Popov, has faced difficulties with his local businesses. In November 2016, Smart Alec’s Intelligent Food, Popov’s first restaurant in Berkeley, closed. Popov cited increased rent, excess competition and increasing restaurant expenditures. Popov was the founder of Smart Alec’s, but sold it in 2010 after running the restaurant for 15 years.
But if Popov is able to transfer the license to a more “qualified” individual before the end of the six-month period allotted by ABC, the alcohol beverage license will no longer run the risk of being revoked, according to Carr. The ABC would then have to conduct a “thorough background investigation” to determine which prospective license-holder is qualified to operate in the best interest of the community.
In March 2017, another local business, Cafe Durant, experienced similar investigations from the ABC when ABC agents allegedly witnessed a group of minors consuming alcohol in Cafe Durant with fake IDs. Since then, Cafe Durant paid a $3000 fine in May 2017 and had its license suspended for 25 days in December 2017 for allowing minors to consume alcohol on the premises, according to Carr.
“We’re doing everything in our power (to adhere to ABC guidelines)” said Shuchi Rana, co-owner of Cafe Durant. “As a small business, everything impacts us in a big way.”
Cafe Durant has now had to invest in added precautions, such as flashlights designed for checking the validity of an ID, a chalkboard that displays the date before which customers must be born to purchase alcohol, regular table checks and other measures to avoid the risk of penalty or suspension of their alcoholic beverage license, according to Hector Orozco, co-owner of Cafe Durant.
Popov could not be reached for comments as of press time.