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"My responsibility is to maintain the integrity of the neighborhood," says Colonna. "This has historically been an upscale establishment."
Maralyn responds with much exasperation. "So diPiazza's is not upscale? What we took over was a cheesy bar that had very few tables for dining. Now we have 16 tables and a menu at every table. We are not focused on selling alcohol. We actually lost a lot of the older clientele due to the fact that we no longer offer happy hour. We don't have the same kind of entertainment that the Captain's Quarters did. They had younger, more youthful bands that drew a younger crowd, and we've pretty much done away with that by booking jazz, blues, softer rock and bands that draw people in their 30s. The previous owners wanted people who drank; we want people who are going to eat."
Colonna is growing tired of the argument—and the publicity. "The diPiazzas are just making it harder for themselves by bringing the media in on this," he warns, although Maralyn says that in the few interviews she's done with reporters about her permit debacle, in each case, it has been the reporters (including this one), and not her, who has instigated the interest.
Things are getting hard for diPiazza. In the three weeks since the Colonna-led vote at the council meeting restricted diPiazza's entertainment hours, she says business at the restaurant has dropped off $2,500 per week, she's had to cut out 10 employee hours, and she has been hard-pressed to make payroll. "I had to put a note by the timecards," she says, "asking everyone to please be patient with getting their checks.
"This whole thing has really affected my income and the income of my employees," diPiazza continues. "I mortgaged my home in order to buy this place and improve it—there wasn't even a garbage disposal in here when we bought it—and I thought everything was going to be fine. But Colonna has just killed our enthusiasm. This is my baby, this is what I've dreamed of, and now I don't know if I am going to be fine. Now with these new stipulations, I may now have something I can't even sell, which means I could lose my home. Colonna just slapped us in the face."
As it stands, the restaurant's entertainment license is up for renewal again in six months. Maralyn diPiazza just hopes she'll stay in business that long.