Hold on Sidewalk Wine Tables After Weekend Police Name-Taking? (UPDATED)

taking names at amanti vino

Update: At noon, we got word from Amanti Vino that they “…have all permits in place and Amanti Vino’s Vinoteca is back open.”

A tipster tells us that on Saturday night, plainclothes police officers approached several tables of patrons who were drinking wine at Amanti Vino’s Vinoteca — the new outside table area on Church Street in front of the wine purveyor. We’re told officers took down names, addresses and telephone numbers of three couples, but assured the customers that they had done nothing wrong; that the police were merely gathering information about the establishment.

And now there’s a message on the Vinoteca page at Amanti Vino’s website, which reads in part: “…the powers that be have asked us to temporarily put our Vinoteca operation on hold. We are hopeful that we will be able to resolve this issue in a timely fashion.”

One theory is that nearby restaurants with liquor licenses might have complained about Amanti Vino’s new ability to let its customers consume the wine it sells right on the sidewalk in front of the store. We’ve reached out to the Montclair Police Department and Alcohol Beverage Control for more information.

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  1. The closest places with liquor licences to Amanti Vino are The Office and Just Jake’s. Frankly I can’t see either of those places raising a big stink about this.

  2. If the police admitted the couples had done nothing wrong, are they allowed to request their names, addresses, and telephone numbers?

  3. Shouldn’t these plain-clothes officers be focusing their efforts down the hill on Mission Street, and not “taking names” of al fresco wine drinkers?

  4. My wife and I enjoyed sitting there drinking a glass of wine and people-watching before they closed it down the first time. We were looking forward to doing it again but now it’s on hold. Why weren’t they taking the information from patrons of the other businesses who aren’t following the rules regarding al fresco dining? The outdoor seating is supposed to be adjacent to the business allowing pedestrians to walk to the outside of the area.
    The town should be doing everything they can to make Church Street/South Park as inviting as possible. I mentioned before that I think they should close Church Street to traffic on the weekends from May to September, Noon to 10PM. Walk the street on a nice summer evening on a weekend and the there is almost a party atmosphere.

  5. “Show me your papers!”

    I believe cops asking for your name and address without cause is similar to asking to search your house– they can ask, but you can decline. But still. This is shameful. And a waste of resources. (Or is it to prove to some, “see, we harass ALL people in Montclair”?)

    (Though while this SMACKS of harassment. But part of me thinks that some folks who are “asked” for their names and addresses on Church St., will now have a little more compassion for kids who are stopped and frisked, or good kids down by Mission St. who will be stopped simply because they are walking down a street– gotta prevent crime, ya know.)

    With that, what’s the point of getting the names? This is offensive. (As is stop & frisk.)

  6. On quiet nights you can draw many comparisons between the Town of Montclair and organized religions: they both are perfectly suited to support life as we know it, here in the 12th Century.

  7. Howard Said:

    ” I mentioned before that I think they should close Church Street to traffic on the weekends from May to September, Noon to 10PM. Walk the street on a nice summer evening on a weekend and the there is almost a party atmosphere.”

    We had the same thought this weekend, Howard. It’s a nice vibe which could be expanded if there were no cars going through looking for non-existent parking.

    When I read the article about the ability to drink there, it sounded very speakeasy-like. “Bring your own glasses. Speak to no-one. If they ask, we never heard of you.” There should be a secret password for cocktail napkins.

  8. Tarkus – my thoughts exactly. Either someone banking a license complained (I’m betting on whoever is trying to sell one to the Scalini Fedeli guys coming in next door) or one of the other restaurants complained because people eating/drinking before they sit down to eat at their establishment means they are ordering less food.

    Either way, seriously? They wasted two uniformed cops on a Saturday night to handle this? A crime far less serious than even unscooped dog crap.

  9. Do we even know it was MPD..Could have been county liquor control officers or something along those lines?

  10. Thanks Lisa! Hope this all pans out, I thoroughly enjoyed being able to catch up with friends over there.

  11. “Next, there will be a watch tower on Church St. to see who is drinking wine at Amanti Vino.”
    …good one, Nellie….. except that the one on Church St. might need some Tudor or Art Deco details, to look good on the street.

  12. The rules and regulations dealing with the sale and consumption of alcohol are very complicated and it’s relatively easy to be in violation of those laws.

    Which is not to say that someone didn’t “turn them in.”

    And getting names sounds strange, but would need an attorney’s interpretation.

  13. Next time bring some Limberger cheese with you and when they ask for your name threaten to rub it on their chests!

    Homage to the Little Rascals

  14. Sharon Sevrens is a law-abiding citizen and a smart businessperson. I’m sure that she researched the rules before going forward. Again! Why would police show up on Saturday night, after she no doubt had many conversations with the powers-that-be? And take my contact information! Why–are you going to call me? To give me a ticket, sometime later, for breaking a law that even you weren’t sure was a law?! Isn’t the town council also the ABC? Don’t they talk to the police??

  15. Just another example of the incompetence and ineptitude of our police force.

    Why on earth are they sending plain clothes officers to Church Street, when they should be concentrated on Mission Street, New Street and Elmwood Avenue.

    Maybe it’s just too far of a walk from the Bloomfield Avenue headquarters.

    Our chief of police and deputy chief of police need to be put under the microscope ASAP.

    Please email our town council members if you agree, they need to hear from you. Enough with the stupidity and incompetence. NOW.

    Click on their names, and you will find their contact information (if they ever get back to you…..)


  16. It’s so ridiculous that the police would give Amanti Vino a hard time about this, don’t they have bigger issues to deal with? I wish Montclair had more options for places to get a glass a wine that didn’t require BYO so I applaud Amanti’s efforts (although this was some form of that) and am disappointed to see the outdoor tables are on hiatus.

  17. Every so often, people helpfully suggest that it would be nice for them if Church Street were closed to auto/truck traffic. I guess those folks don’t realize that most of the little boutique shops on the street don’t have back doors or any way to receive deliveries other than through their front doors. So the helpful folks are suggesting, in effect, that the merchant have to lug what ever deliveries they receive from either South Park Street or South Fullerton Avenue. Not so bad when it’s a can of coffee…but what about when it’s something that weighs 50 pounds? Or comes in a box the size of a washing machine?

    The other thing many well-meaning folks don’t get is that on a lovely Summer weekend, there’s a hustle and bustle to Church Street. During the week? Not at all. And during the late fall, winter, and early spring? It’s Deadsville.

    You get no argument from me as a former shop owner for 7 years that it would be lovely if during the summer months it were closed to traffic. But the truth is: it isn’t practical. At all. And during the “off season” it’s simply pointless.

    I grant you that none of the above has anything to do with “Show me your papers…”.

  18. Church street is now in a parallel universe in which you can get valet parking, enjoy the wine you just purchased at Amanti outside of any number of the restaurants on the block, but not drink it in exactly the same manner in front of Amanti itself without getting harrasssed by what are supposed to be authority figures.

  19. El Griz, someone obviously called the MPD and lodged a complaint against Amanti Vino. As such, they were obliged to investigate the matter. Has that occurred to you?

    And as for them being where they shouldn’t, it’s called “multitasking”; a skill any self-respecting police department would demonstrate.

    And no, I will not complain to the town council. Sounds to me as if you have a personal score to settle here.

  20. Dear ML,

    No one is saying that the owners of the shop aren’t smart,

    There are over 28 different licenses. NJ has perhaps the most complicated licensing system in the country (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_laws_of_New_Jersey).

    My understanding is that this matter is being settled with direct contact to the “powers that be” in the state and should be resolved (if it hasn’t already).

    MPD is doing what they are required to do: follow up on complaints.

  21. zephyrus: Right! “You can drink wine that you’ve purchased elsewhere, sitting outside at a table, *if you buy something to eat* from a restaurant that has a table outside!”

  22. Oh Gawd! People in France and Italy are laughing at us. This is preposterous. The couples in question weren’t walking around downtown Montclair with open containers. They were having wine with their dinner and it happened to be a nice night so they chose to sit outside. Crime of the century! Raeven, that was my first thought, too. Why do they need these people’s names to do their “research?” Their energies should be directed to Mission Street, perhaps.

  23. Why do I automatically assume that any controversy over serving alcohol and / or interpreting the liquor licensing laws in The People’s Very Democratic Republic of New Jersey does, did, or will involve either lawyers fees or a clandestine exchange of cash? Cynic or realist?

  24. Dane said – ” I guess those folks don’t realize that most of the little boutique shops on the street don’t have back doors or any way to receive deliveries other than through their front doors. So the helpful folks are suggesting, in effect, that the merchant have to lug what ever deliveries they receive from either South Park Street or South Fullerton Avenue.”

    That’s why I suggested that Church Street only be closed for certain hours and only on the weekend similar to Nassau Street in New York did when I used to work downtown. This allowed deliveries to be made right to the front door of the businesses.

    And if businesses are getting deliveries during those peak weekend hours they are most likely being delivered by people double parking on Church Street and causing an obstacle for traffic.

  25. This incident (if true as reported here) does seemingly completely contradict an earlier item on this site which (if accurately reported, which isn’t always a guarantee on Baristanet) which maintained that Amanti Vino’s selling of wine for outdoors consumption in fact has/had the approval of Montclair’s town fathers. To the point where the Mayor was supposedly going to preside at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

  26. Mrs Martta, we live close to Church Street and enjoy walking in the area on nice summer nights. It really does remind me of France where we have eaten (and drank wine) outdoors even on some chilly nights when they used propane heaters effectively.

  27. C’mon, MM. Not the “they’re laughing at us argument”?

    Considering the economies in France and especially Italy, I think they have other things to do than to laugh at us.

    In fact, I’m laughing at France with their car burnings and lack of religious freedom (banning veils, etc.).

    And Italy? I think they’re too busy worrying about losing an entire generation (shades of Japan) because of its economy to laugh at anyone.

    No. I still think this has more to do with the police wanting to seem as if they “target” all folks in Montclair for possible violations. (Because with the requested step-up in police in the Mission St. area will inevitably come complaints of selective targeting.)

    Oh, and look at that, a Judge ruled NY’s Stop and Frisk unconstitutional this morning. Really? It’s against the law to detain (mostly) Black and Brown kids for no reason. Wow. I thought Bloomberg was always right.

    I guess cops can’t stop and frisk innocent folks for no reason.

    In Montclair, we just ask your name and address.

  28. I find asking for my name and address intrusive if I have done nothing wrong. And comparing drinking a glass of vino at a sidewalk table cannot be compared to a shooting. Nah, I think it’s more of a case of someone somewhere being jealous that someone else is having a good time.

  29. Church St could easily become the next Stone St. Stone St. in the financial district of Manhattan is difficult to find if you don’t know where you are going, but Church St is quite visible in Montclair and would work 3 seasons of the year. You can bring heated towers like the bars do. (I believe all the restaurants/cafe’s have a basement to store folding tables perhaps) and as a poster above mentioned, only have the street closed from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. Most of the shops have two entrances, and those who don’t can accommodate deliveries during the week

  30. Yeah good luck with that. As people above mentioned, police have to respond to any complaint regardless of its merit. When alcohol involved, checking i.d.’s or asking names, addresses isn’t uncommon or in any way intrusive. Especially since we don’t know the nature of the complaint. Could have been a complaint about under age drinking, rowdiness, whatever. It’s about as intrusive as amanti vino checking i.d.’s when people purchase wine.

  31. They have to respond to all complaints? So if someone calls to complain about wine being drunk at any of the restaurants it will only be a matter of time before the fuzz rolls up to get to the bottom of things and this is not a matter of a business being singled out for some odd reason?

  32. I also meant only on weekend evenings (and possibly brunch time) in nice weather, when it’s unlikely a truck would be trying to deliver.

    I love Stone Street.

  33. Should’ve clarified. Any complaint alleging illegal activities. If i called up to complain about a 65 year old man drinking a glass of wine at a restaurant im pretty sure they’d hang up. Point being, this seems fairly routine to me.

  34. Is EVERY liquor store in Montclair allowed to put tables and chairs out on the sidewalk for their customers to imbibe in public?
    It would only seem fair.

  35. There’s a nice, mid-rise apartment building on the corner of Church & South Park, and a handful of tenants park in a lot behind the building – access to which is from Church Street. One possible reason that turning Church Street into a ‘pedestrian only’ street might run into some resistance.

  36. Rude Buddha, I think it is common knowledge that you can drink outside of a liquor store in Montclair. Grove St has a few milk crates near the rear entrance that I see people enjoying their newly purchased spirits. And of course, M. Caggiano’s was the pioneer in Al fresco drinking with their retro kitchen chairs and mini van benches on the sidewalk. And for a Stone St feel, you can drink in the back alley on Pine St.

  37. Redrum hit the nail on the head.
    Plain clothes cops harassing diners on Church street is comical. Great job 5-0.
    BTW there was a multiple shooting 5 blocks away.

  38. The only nail that redrum hits on the head is the one that he drives into his coffin when posing here.

  39. I know bar/restaurants can apply their liquor license a certain amount of times/year at a different venue. Im sure the same can go for a liquor store. Also, when it comes to licenses in NJ the state is a clusterfuck. the process for the real estate license is a joke and their protocols/ methods under the dept. of baking and insurance are laughable. Anything to make a buck I guess.

  40. Montclair Police are all decent guys with the community’s best interests at heart. They are the same guys that let your kid’s go home when they have them for possession and cigarettes (under 18). There I something else going on here. I appreciate the heads up. No open containers for me!

  41. This is a case of police harassment that should be pursued and punished. The police have no right to behave in this manner. If the mayor had a role in this, it should be investigated as well.

    You would think the Montclair police had something more important to do than harass innocent citizens. Do we have a list of the names of the police officers that behaved this way?

  42. It certainly seems that one officer could have done the “follow up” to the citizen complaint about Amanti Vino. The other two or three would seem to be better directed to Greenwood / Glenridge and Mission Street, etc.

    Is the identity of the complaining entity public information? It would seem that Amanti Vino might have a harassment complaint to bring…

  43. I’m going to reserve judgment on the “Stop and Cork” policing until I hear the MPD’s side of the story.

  44. I happened to know Sharon of Amanti Vino and have since she opened. From my knowledge of her and how she operates, she followed the rules as they are. She is not a person who would operate unlawfully like Fresco down the road. Now as for the other issues, why the police are involved is beyond me but if there was a complaint they do have to look into it. NOT ask for names, license, first born and etc. We have bigger issues in town so they should go about dealing with them on a long term basis. I do believe there are some issues about how the sidewalk tables and etc are being handled and the town, not police, should supervise that. I will say the liquor laws in NJ are really confusing, dumb and make no sense many times. Look at how long Grabowsky can hold onto an inactive license. YEARS and still nothing. Others are also offenders of this.

  45. Maybe a Freudian scholar could explain why the lookout tower on Bloomfield Ave., coupled with the drinking on the sidewalk on Church Street non-issue, has made me nostalgic for my hometown, Newark, where I lived, literally, in the shadow of the Hoffman Bottle (which was later painted with the Pabst Blue Ribbon label.) Tall towers and alcohol. What’s the world coming to?

  46. These were almost positively police for the New Jersey ABC, who handle this sort of stuff, and NOT the Montclair PD.

    The bashing on the Montclair PD here is insane. These are the same people that if, God forbid you have an emergency at 3AM, would be at your home in minutes to put their life on the line to save you.

    More and more recently I find the comments on this site really showcase the worst of this town, and I find myself coming to Baristanet less and less because of it.

  47. Police reports can be OPRA’d — just send an OPRA request to the Municipal Clerk – here’s boilerplate

    Please accept this e-mail as my request for government records in
    accordance with the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) and the common law
    right of access. Please respond and send all responsive documents to me
    via e-mail at YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS

    If e-mail is not possible, please mail responses and responsive records to me at :

    Also, I would appreciate it if you would acknowledge your receipt of this e-mail.

    Records requested:


  48. Baristanet provides a valued news source as well as discussion point for the going-ons around Montclair. Perhaps not all readers always agree with the editorial stance taken by the staff, and perhaps there is a large variety of opinions expressed. This, however, is a good thing in a free and open society where people are engaged at different levels with local community.

    Probably not everyone loves Montclair as much as zidarich or myself, but we do benefit from seeing a different side of the town from the perspectives of others.

    The Montclair Police Force is indeed expected to be at your door at 3 am if there is a concern about a crime. There is nothing heroic in that. Those same police officers are sleeping when others are working.

    The complaint here is that the police themselves broke the law, knowingly and for the purpose of the harassment of an upstanding business establishment. Perhaps this was a neighborly dispute or perhaps there was political workings in the background. It should be openly investigated and those who were part of the wrongdoing should be disciplined.

    Montclair does not become a better town by ignoring crime or the criminals who carry it out. The euphemisms for public servants have a place, but not when they are the ones committing the crimes. Citizens have a duty to speak up in the face of wrongdoing, and good citizens do.

    Hopefully Baristanet will never become a showcase for a fairytale postcard of a town that did not exist. Keep that for the guys huddled at one end of the bar at the end of a working day in Tierney’s.

  49. It seems fairly obvious that the core issue is about the blurring of the line between being able to buy packaged goods, and a consumption license. Any restaurant without a liquor license, has allowed you to enjoy the wine you purchased elsewhere, with your meal. This is a stretch towards having a consumption license, just don’t “serve it” or offer glasses.

  50. troubleinparadise – a good point you bring up. There must be something in the sidewalk law that allows this and also within ABC regulations. I will admit it looks as if it a very grey area but if a business owner follows what is the basic outline prescribed in the regulations, then they should be allow to do this. The feeling of grey seems at hand. thanks.

  51. idratherbeat63. What the hell do you mean “those same police officers are sleeping when others are working?”

  52. After I calmed down I realized that idratherbeat63 meant to say that those same police officers were working when others where sleeping.

  53. fronitz, there is always more Valium in your night table. And to think it was so simple to understand and you still got it wrong. No matter. If it is above your pay grade, you shouldn’t stress it.

    There is no “grey area” for police to abuse their power. The real issue here is no longer the inspection or enforcement of alcohol licensing laws, but police officers who put themselves above the law. This endangers all of us.

  54. idratherbe…can you please explain how you got to your brilliant conclusions from the 4 brief paragraphs that make up this story? what laws were broken by the police officers again, and how does this endanger all of us? (either i missed it, it’s above my pay grade or i just can’t read as well as you) forgive me.

  55. Police officers, as police officers, have no right to approach persons and request and record personal information without just cause. Simply gathering personal information while explicitly stating that the persons had done nothing wrong and providing the reason as “information gathering” is unacceptable behavior on the part of those we pay to uphold the law.

    We can only know what is reported, however brief. Certainly we would welcome the police to provide more information on their undercover and secret activities. However, we would also be naive to believe the police will be forthcoming as they should be.

    Perhaps more disturbing than the police harassment is the willingness of so many people to turn a blind eye to it or being unwilling to see it when it is pointed out. This is what happened in Germany in the 1930’s and again in many European countries following WWII. A free and open society does not disappear suddenly one bright sunny morning; it comes about slowly, and it comes about with the full support of the majority of the people.

    thedudeabides, I don’t believe this is above your pay grade. How you missed it in those four brief paragraphs is, however, beyond me. If such police behavior is acceptable to you, then the worry is only greater.

    It would be interesting to know who “the powers that be” are who continue to harass this business and what they conceive their just cause to be. The fact that all this is done in such a secret way gives rise to concern.

  56. My goodness, such a discussion about Montclair police when none of you know whether it was the police or whether it was Alcohol and Beverage Control. Maybe we should all discuss what we know and not what we don’t know!!!

  57. Did anyone just say “No” when asked, then following up with “Is there a problem?” “No? By the way, what’s your name and badge number?”


    EVER. It is a recipe for your disaster.

    “But I have nothing to hide to done anything wrong.”

    You don’t get to decide what’s considered “wrong”.


    Know your rights. If you are unsure about being “interviewed” by law enforcement, watch the video linked below.

    A law school professor and former criminal defense attorney tells you why you should never agree to be interviewed by the police.

  58. eventhorizon, thank you for posting this important video. Hopefully people will watch it and have the courage to follow it for their own well-being.

    claremont, thank you for pointing out this additional concern. Indeed, although the article states “plain clothes police officers” were involved in this harassment, we do not know precisely which police were doing this. The Montclair Police Chief David Sabagh has unfortunately not publicly stated if his department was involved in this or not. ABC personnel are not “police officers,” so it is understandable that people would assume it was the local police violating the rights of the restaurant goers and the business itself.

    It would seem to be in the interest of the Montclair Police Department to investigate this and publicly respond to this serious concern.

  59. officers took down names, addresses and telephone numbers of three couples, but… were merely gathering information about the establishment.

    hahaHAHAHA! What a great line! Cracks me up.

  60. Our rights are gradually being eroded bit by bit every day. It’s so insidious that people barely notice it. You need to stand back and look at the big picture. Eventhorizon is absolutely correct and I’ve seen that video a number of times. Know your rights before they are gone!

  61. … none of you know whether it was the police or whether it was Alcohol and Beverage Control

    If that’s the case, they have even less right than the police to harass people!

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