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Japanese restaurant's fate up to state board

| Friday, June 28, 2002

The state Liquor Control Board could determine whether Peters Township will get its first Japanese restaurant.

The township council signed off Monday night on the transfer of a liquor license to Hibachi Japan Inc., owners of Shogun Japanese Steakhouse in Monroeville. Hibachi Japan plans to open a restaurant at the Donaldson's Crossroads Shopping Center.

Council approved the transfer 6-0, with Councilman Bill Naumoff absent from the meeting. The state board now must approve the transfer.

Except in rare circumstances, the board cannot issue new licenses in municipalities with more than one license per 3,000 residents. Under a state law that took effect last year, liquor licenses may be transferred from one municipality to another within the same county. Because Peters has 13 licenses and a population of less than 18,000, it must exercise that option.

Hibachi Japan's license would be transferred from Union Township. If the state board approves the transfer, Hibachi Japan's restaurant would be one of three establishments in the plaza with a liquor license. The others are Ambrogi's and Hunan Inn.

Ambrogi's is within 200 feet of the proposed site for the new restaurant and so a protest could be filed with the state board. Council discussed this issue Monday, but it wasn't a factor in the decision.

"I don't believe that's a matter that is in our authority at this hearing," township Solicitor William Johnson said.

The 5,000-square-foot Japanese restaurant, which could open in September or October, wouldn't have a bar but would offer cocktails to patrons. It would employ 20 to 25 people and have a seating capacity of 150 to 200. There would be lunch and dinner hours.

Since the township approved the transfer, state board spokeswoman Molly McGowan said Hibachi Japan can file a request for a transfer with the board.

So far, the board hasn't received the request, but McGowan expects one to be forthcoming.

The next step for Hibachi Japan then would be acquiring a building permit from the township. Any changes to the site would require a building permit, township Manager Mike Silvestri said.

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