Three restaurant-owner associations sued the New York state liquor board, alleging that the board illegally granted alcohol permits to Indian-owned Turning Stone Casino and Resort. The associations requested that the state demand the Liquor Authority is banned from issuing any additional permits to the casino. David Vickers, lawyer for the restaurant owner associations said, “If the liquor authority thinks it’s OK for alcohol to be present at Turning Stone 24/7/365, then why deny them a liquor license? Why not grant them a license and gain some oversight?” Vickers is representing the groups from Madison, Oneida and Herkimer counties.
The Liquor Authority of New York has continuously denied licensing the resort but has issued thousands of temporary permits for The Beeches Restaurant of Rome to serve alcoholic drinks at Turning Stone’s nightclub, lounge and multiple casino-owned restaurants. The resort qualified for the catering permits by altering its restaurants and calling them “private clubs.” This gives them a status that is conducive to liquor permits. Though The Beeches must apply daily for the alcohol catering permits, it is a way to avoid getting an actual license to serve.
The restaurant-owners association is claiming that the restaurants and lounges in actuality do not meet the legal definition of a “club.” Vickers stated, “Calling something an event that is really an ongoing practice is really an abuse of the law.” Vickers is drawing a distinction between ongoing events that are “normally performed” and individual events such as weddings or conventions. He believes the later would fall under the liquor permit definition, but the consistent everyday normal activity wouldn’t. The lawsuit names the Liquor Authority. The Turning Stone American Culinary Federation Inc, and The Beeches as defendants in the case. The hearing is scheduled for December 16th.
Critics of the lawsuit are calling it “frivolous.” Namely the Oneida Nation is questioning the intentions of the restaurant-owner associations involved. They are wondering why this issue is being brought up after years of operating this way. They believe that the true issue is a personal one. The Beeches is owned by Christopher Destito, the husband of Democratic state Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito.