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Supervisors approve transfer of liquor license to Newtown Restaurant

The license will allow Piccolo Trattoria to serve alcohol to complement the food in the newly expanded restaurant.

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NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP, PA – Patrons of Piccolo Trattoria in the Newtown Shopping Center will soon be able to order alcoholic beverages with their meals.

On Wednesday evening, the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the inter-municipal transfer of a liquor license from 198 Lincoln Highway, Fairless Hills, to the Italian restaurant at the Newtown Shopping Center.

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The municipality currently has 14 active liquor licenses. With the addition of Piccolo, that number increases to 15, one of which is in safe custody awaiting activation by the Capital Grill, which plans to open this year in the Village of Newtown Shopping Center.

The permit will allow restaurant owner Fahmi Elabed to serve alcohol to complement the food at the newly expanded 6,000-square-foot, 147-seat restaurant at 32 West Road. He also plans to add a 10- to 12-seat bar area to the inside of his restaurant.

Elabed told regulators that alcoholic beverage sales would be used to supplement the food served, with food making up 80 percent of sales and alcohol making up about 20 percent.

He also said employees should follow the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s Responsible Alcohol Management Program, which provides employees with training to identify minors and recognize visibly intoxicated customers.

The expansion allows Elabed to switch to a full-service concept with lunch, brunch and dinner seven days a week with a menu of Italian, Mediterranean, American and fusion dishes. He also plans to operate a small catering area in the restaurant, which can accommodate up to 100 private guests.

The regulators conditioned their approval of the license transfer on the restaurant not allowing any music on the outdoor patio.

Elabed argued that he has no neighbors around him who would be affected by the music. However, supervisors said they had to be uniform in their enforcement because they had banned any form of music at other establishments in the township, including Iron Hill and Starbucks.

“We have banned outdoor speakers at other restaurants, including Starbucks, Iron Hill and Ardana, all of which have complied with not having outdoor speakers,” Supervisor John Mack said.

Supervisor Chairman Dennis Fisher said he would have no problem with live music being heard indoors on the patio, but he would be against any kind of speakers on the patio.

As part of the expansion, the eatery is building an 80-seat covered outdoor dining area on the far west side of the mall. A knee-high wall surrounds the patio to protect guests from the parking lot and access road.

The lawn, where the outdoor seating will be, was suspended by the mall for six additional parking spaces. These spaces will now be suspended across the street from the outdoor dining area, with a future crosswalk planned between the end of the mall and the future parking lot.

To remain viable in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Elabed told regulators in 2022 that restaurants now require outdoor seating areas for their customers.

Piccolo was granted a zoning exemption for the project in April 2022, which included a variance to allow an impervious coverage ratio of 59.87 percent, which represents a 0.22 percent increase over what is currently allowed.

A variance was also granted to allow the mall to continue to maintain 953 parking spaces, 169 of which are held “in reserve”, while the patio expansion would have required the construction of an additional 15 parking spaces.

The zoning plan did add the condition that the outdoor seating area remains outdoor seating and cannot be converted into de facto permanent seating.

Piccolo also operates restaurants in Doylestown Township at the Barn Plaza and in Pennington, New Jersey.

Piccolo Trattoria is known for its Italian cuisine, including take-away pizza, and as a destination for intimate gatherings for family and friends. All three locations offer an Old World atmosphere with Italian flair, creativity and quality.