Glendale biz owner blames city for snafu

Giuseppe Ferrara, owner of Villagio Pizza, holds up all of the licenses from various city agencies he obtained to run his restaurant. Photo by Joe Anuta
By Joe Anuta

A Glendale restaurant owner unwittingly acquired all sorts of licenses to run his eatery while never actually having a certificate of occupancy, and the architect for Villagio Pizza blames it on the city’s bureaucratic licensing system.

“We did nothing wrong,” said Giuseppe Ferrara, owner of the restaurant at 79-76 Cooper Ave. “We don’t want any trouble.”

It was previously reported in TimesLedger Newspapers that Ferrara was operating his pizzeria without a certificate of occupancy from the city Department of Buildings. The department listed the eatery’s certificate of occupancy as belonging to a factory.

But Ferrara said he had no idea the property was not listed as a restaurant, considering that two other restaurants have occupied the space for decades.

A Chinese restaurant existed on the site for roughly 25 years, Ferrara said. After that an Italian deli took over the space.

Ferrara’s pizza joint was previously located just down the street, but when the Italian deli was put up for sale, Ferrara wanted to expand and began to rent the property for himself.

“We bought the deli and we came over here,” he said. “We transferred everything.”

The restaurant is now in a bigger location and has a separate dining and lounge area attached.

Ferrara has certificates from all the requisite agencies to run the eatery, including the city Department of Health. He also transferred his liquor license from the state Liquor Authority to the new location.

Neither the city agencies nor Ferrara picked up on the glitch.

“We didn’t check,” Ferrara said. “But we pay our taxes, we are legitimate people.”

An architect for the business, Joel Miele Jr., is currently working with Buildings to get the certificate of occupancy changed over to a restaurant and blamed the problem on a lack of communication between different city agencies.

“The basic problem with the city is there is no central agency where they keep track of all the approvals,” said Miele, who is often hired to sort out application problems. “I don’t think that anyone understands when you have 12 agencies involved, and you need to get 12 approvals, it’s not even easy to know which places to apply at.”

Different agencies have different requirements to prove that the restaurant is legitimate, Miele said. Ferrara likely was told what documentation to supply to get approved.

“He submitted whatever he was asked for,” Miele said.

Yet the Liquor Authority claimed it does not issue licences without a proper certificate of occupancy.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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