Hamden restaurant loses liquor permit renewal after multiple violent incidents

HAMDEN —  Slyce Pizza and Bar, the place of multiple violent incidents in Hamden, has lost its liquor permit.

The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection says that on Thursday, the Liquor Control Commission made a formal decision not to renew the restaurant’s liquor permit, following three days of public testimony from Hamden public officials and members of the community.

DCP says that the hearing was prompted by a petition that was filed by at least ten Hamden residents objecting to the permit renewal.

Hamden Police Chief Thomas Wydra and Democratic Hamden Mayor Curt Balzano Leng joined members of CONECT — Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut — in calling on the restaurant, located at 141 Arch Street, to stop serving alcohol.

The organization collected over 200 signatures from Hamden residents on a Remonstrance Petition to the Liquor Commission in order to force a hearing on the establishment’s liquor privileges. One sponsor, Odell Cooper, lost her son to a homicide by the establishment.

Police say Odell’s son, Jonathan, was murdered in April while sitting at a stop light at the corner of Arch Street and Dixwell Avenue. He had never been to Slyce, but was shot and killed in a case of mistaken identity by someone who investigators say was in a fight at the pizza parlor.

“The Liquor Control Commission takes these decisions very seriously,” said Acting Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull, “Public input is very valuable to us at DCP. We know that our Liquor Control Division and the Commission can do their best work protecting public health and safety when they hear from local residents.”

Police also noted several other incidents in front of Slyce over the course of several months. In January, a suspect armed with a handgun opened fire into a large crowd of patrons standing in the parking lot. No injuries were reported due to the incident and an accused party was never identified.

On June 9th, two men were arrested after an investigation into a May incident that occurred in front of Slyce Pizza Bar.  Daryl Belton, 44, and Roger Sullivan, 39, faced a number of charges after a physical altercation involving an ex-girlfriend led to an assault with a firearm.

Then, on April 9th, police responded to a shooting where a 28-year-old man was assaulted and possible hit by a car, while a 26-year-old man was struck by gunfire in his back while in his car leaving Slyce.

Neighbors have also complained to Hamden police about the quality of life problems in the community, such as loud noise late at night and parking problems. They also say their streets are regularly littered with trash and beer bottles that come from the restaurant.

The restaurant’s owners say they are being unfairly blamed for the town’s problems. They accuse Hamden officials of spinning the story against them instead of working to resolve inherently poor environmental factors that cause escalated crime rates in the surrounding neighborhoods.