Commissioners support proposal to allow Cardiff restaurant to deliver beer with pizza

(Charlie Neuman)

State Alcoholic Beverage Control agency will make final ruling on East Coast Pizza’s plans


A Cardiff pizza place that’s seeking new ways to enhance its business should be permitted to deliver beer or wine with people’s pizzas, Encinitas Planning Commissioners decided.

In a 4-0 vote, with Commissioner Brett Farrow absent, the board earlier this month agreed to support the proposal put forward by East Coast Pizza with a few conditions, including:

All deliveries must be handled by pizza place employees, not independent contractors,

Delivery drivers must be at least age 21, and so must the people paying for the order,

The alcohol portion of the delivery must be no more than 50 percent of total cost of the order, excluding tip, tax and delivery expenses.

“I want to make sure the value of the food is always greater than the value of the alcohol,” Commissioner Bruce Ehlers said.

East Coast Pizza’s alcohol delivery proposal is likely a first for Encinitas, city planners have said. The final decision on its delivery plans will be up to the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which regulates alcohol sales.

The Encinitas Planning Commission got a say in the issue because the pizza place also was seeking a city minor use permit, design review permit and a coastal development permit for a renovation project. Plans call for remodeling both the interior and exterior of the restaurant in the Cardiff Towne Center and adding an outdoor patio dinning area.

Planning Commissioners were scheduled to vote Feb. 20 on the permit requests, but postponed the decision so city staff could do additional research on the alcohol delivery proposal and create some standard rules that could be used by other applicants later.

By last week, regional measures to control the spread of the novel coronavirus had drastically changed daily life in Encinitas. Many people were working from home, and San Diego County officials had ordered restaurants to cease on-site dining.

“(It’s) a perfect time to be handling deliveries,” Commissioner Kevin Doyle said after the vote.

The commission meeting itself was drastically impacted by the virus containment measures. Due to limits on the size of public gatherings, the meeting consisted of the commissioners and a rotating group of city staff members and applicants with requests before the commission. When one item finished, the commission paused so that the few people associated with that item could leave the room before those associated with the next item came in.

Members of the public watched the meeting online and were invited to e-mail comments to the city clerk, who read them aloud to the commissioners.

In addition to those challenges, the commission had two newcomers that night who were participating in their first meeting -- newly appointed commissioners Amy Flicker and Susan Sherod.

Ehlers, who was elected the board’s new chairman that night, shifted back and forth throughout the evening, giving the new commissioners information about how a Planning Commission meeting typically was conducted, then letting the public know about the special arrangements made that night.

Also, Sherod participated in the meeting via videoconference and Ehlers had to regularly check in with her to make sure she could hear what was going on in the meeting room.

The commission’s next scheduled meeting is April 2.

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