Encinitas pizza place proposes home delivery of beer, wine

(File photo)

A proposal to allow a Cardiff pizza place to offer home deliveries of beer or wine along with people’s boxes of pizza is going to require a bit more review given that this could be a first for Encinitas, the city’s Planning Commission decided Thursday, Feb. 20.

Among other things, the city’s going to need to look into setting some standards on how much alcohol can be delivered, who’s going to be allowed to do the drop-offs and where the permitted delivery locations might be, commissioners said. They decided to hold off on voting on the proposal until their March 19 meeting to allow city planners time to draft some proposed standards.

“This is all new to us,” said Chairman Glenn O’Grady, who has been a city planning commissioner for a decade and was stepping down from the board at the end of the meeting.

Commissioner Kevin Doyle said it’s the commission’s job to look beyond a single request by one applicant and consider the long-term effects of allowing alcohol with pizza deliveries.

“I’m concerned about this once we open the floodgates .... it’s got ramifications citywide,” he said.

Mikey Lukich, who has owned East Coast Pizza in the Cardiff Towne Center on San Elijo Avenue for 14 years, is proposing to establish the alcohol delivery service as part of a major renovation project. He’s currently seeking a city minor use permit, design review permit and a coastal development permit to renovate both the interior and exterior of the restaurant, and add an outdoor patio dinning area.

The state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control regulates the sale of alcohol, and Lukich is seeking a Type 41 license from the state so that his renovated restaurant will be able to sell beer and wine. The city of Encinitas gets a say in the alcohol delivery issue through the city’s permit approval process for the renovation plans, city associate planner Todd Mierau said.

Typically, Encinitas officials have approved minor use permits for eating establishments with the condition that only on-site alcohol consumption is allowed, and not the sale of alcoholic beverages for off-site consumption, Mierau said. East Coast Pizza is seeking permission for off-site sales as well as on-site, so it can offer the delivery service.

Lukich told the planning commissioners that there’s more competition in the pizza business these days --- many new places have opened in Encinitas in the last five years --- and that’s why he’s asking for permission to add alcohol delivery.

“This would give us a benefit to offer something that they’re not doing,” he said, adding that he hopes to partner with The Lost Abbey tasting room next door to offer specialty brews.

Commissioner Bruce Ehlers said the applicant’s building renovation plans were “fantastic,” but said he wanted extra time to “craft things much more carefully” when it came to the delivery rules. Among other things, he suggested that the city ought to limit the amount of alcohol that can be delivered based on the food that’s ordered. That way people can’t order three kegs of beer and a sandwich, he said. Also, he said, the city should limit where deliveries can occur, so someone can’t order beer and a pizza delivered to a city park.

Commissioners also said they wanted a requirement that the delivery people had to be restaurant employees, rather than independent contractors. Attorney Matthew Friedrichs, who represents Lukich, told the commissioners that 13 of Lukich’s 16 employees are over 21 years of age, so it won’t be a problem for him to make certain the deliveries are handled by adults.

County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Herb Taft, who leads the department’s North Coastal Station, told the commissioners that he initially had “a few concerns” about the delivery proposal, but after meeting with Lukich he felt “a lot more comfortable.” He said Lukich has invested a great deal in his business and thus will make certain his employees comply with any delivery rules.

Commissioners said they agreed with his assessment that the owner was responsible, but said they wanted to carefully craft the rules because, if approved, the use permit allowing deliveries will be attached to the business, not the operator. That means that if Lukich sells his business, the new owner would have permission for deliveries, too, they noted.

— Barbara Henry is a freelance writer for The San Diego Union-Tribune