After a year-long investigation titled “Operation Swill,” New Jersey’s attorney general’s office has accused 29 bars and restaurants, including 13 TGI Fridays of swapping out top-shelf liquor brands for well brands.
The attorney general’s office targeted the establishments after citizen complaints, informants and technology used to test samples taken by undercover agents.
6 ABC has received the following release from TGI Fridays:
TGI Fridays was just made aware of this issue and is working closely with the franchisee and owner of the cited locations to review and investigate these serious allegations. We have one of the most extensive bar and beverage programs in the industry, which sets a very high standard in the quality and service of our beverages.
Reminds us of a story from around here.
The bars and restaurants named in Operation Swill »
According to today’s Philadelphia Daily News, Mayor Nutter and City Council are considering increasing the “liquor by the drink” tax by 50% to help fund Philadelphia schools. The tax is currently at 10% with the funds collected going to the schools. Problem is, the tax isn’t being collected. In a Victor Fiorillo Philly Post column from last year, Fiorillo finds that the tax isn’t collected from one-third of all establishments. That is $31 million in unpaid liquor taxes.
City Considers hiking liquor-drink tax to 15% [Daily News]
How to Cheat on Your Taxes, Philly Style [Philly Post]
Pollyodd, the limoncello shop we told you about in late October is opening to the public today. Though today’s hours will only be from 2 to 7 p.m., look for an official grand opening coming right up.
Pollyodd, which is at 1908 East Passyunk Avenue is taking advantage of a change in Pennsylvania law that allows a distiller to open an off-site retail establishment, much like PA wineries can. Pollyodd, the booze is a line of 18 alcoholic drinks including limoncello, lime, orange, or chocolate flavored liqueurs. A bottle will run about $26-$28.
Here’s the 2011 liquor purchasers in Philadelphia for 2011. This factors out wine purchases from the state. All that tequila really runs up the bill at El Vez. Note, this isn’t what the bars sold the alcohol for, but rather how much they purchased it for from the PLCB.
Total Spirits Money Spent
Want to play around with the full list of 200 top wine and spirits purchasers in Philadelphia for 2011? Check out our sortable chart of the Top 200 PLCB Licensees for Philadelphia in 2011.
Top 200 2011 Philadelphia LCB Licensees [f8b8z]
Matt Zagorski may never leave the shadow of his burger. The man behind the Rouge burger puts out a burger Craig LaBan raves about in his review of Hickory Lane but it is good to know other parts of the menu feature winners as well.
When this kitchen’s in its zone, though, presenting simple bistro dishes with quality ingredients, smart accents, and solid technique, it is hard not to see the appeal. A beautifully seasoned pork tenderloin came over super-silky sweet potato puree and swiss chard ringed with a honeyed citrus caramel and garlic oil blushing red with paprika. Seared king salmon was paired with creamy polenta and crackly leaves of aromatic fried oregano. A roasted breast of wing-on chicken, the ultimate neighborhood bistro dish, had tawny crisped skin and a full juicy savor, with creamy Yukon potato puree flecked with green garlic butter. The NY strip, meanwhile, was exceptionally tender and flavorful, basted with herby maître d’butter and rich red wine jus. I only wish those house-made frites had been crisper.
Also of note, Hickory Lane is aiming to add a liquor license this summer.
Two Bells – Very Good
Craig LaBan review: Hickory Lane [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Hickory Lane [Official Site]
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that the Pennsylvania plan to eliminate the PLCB has failed and has been replaced by a plan to let beer distributors sell wine.
The House Liquor Control Committee, controlled by Republicans, today scrapped Republican Turzai’s wide-ranging but controversial bill and instead passed a radically different bill that would let the state’s 1,200 beer distributors sell wine to the public while the liquor stores continue.
The “gut and replace” amendment, as it is called, was proposed by Rep. John Taylor, R-Philadelphia, who said he couldn’t support Mr. Turzai’s plan to eliminate the LCB’s 620 stores and lay off its 3,800 unionized workers.
Moorestown Mall owner PREIT has announced it has a signed letter of intent with Marc Vetri to open a restaurant at the New Jersey mall. Michael Klein reports it would be a scaled down version of Osteria.
PREIT is attempting to upgrade the Moorestown mall by adding high-end dining destinations. Moorestown is a dry town and a November ballot measure would allow PREIT to purchase four liquor licenses for the mall at $1 million each (twice what a recent liquor license in Cherry Hill went for).
So in November will Moorestown voters be lured by the promise of prosciutto di parma topped pizzas and encouraged to vote to allow the mall to offer liquor? With the threat of rising property taxes or cuts to schools and local services, four liquor licenses for the mall seems an attractive option for creating revenue. Having a chef of Vetri’s status onboard is one heck of an ace-in-the-hole.
Vetri signs letter of intent for Moorestown Mall [The Insider]
Guaranteed Revenue [Courier Post]
Rhuby, the rhubarb flavored liquor from Art in the Age (Snap and Root) should hit Pennsylvania Wine and Spirits stores this week. Check out Art in the Age’s album of recipes for ideas on what to do with the booze. And let us know if you spot it on a shelf, we are intrigued.
Introducing Rhuby [Art in the Age]