by Phil Stilton
JACKSON-On February 8th, 2015, enforcement agents from New Jersey’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Agency (ABC) conducted an enforcement action at Brooklyn Square Pizza ahead of a planned promotional event at the restaurant the following night.
The restaurant was planning on hosting a wine themed event with convicted felon, television reality star Angela Raiola. Raiola, known as “Big Ang” in the reality television show Mob Wives was in Jackson promoting her wine brand, Big Ang Wines.
Advertising for the event promoted a $30 cover charge for a meet and greet with the reality tv celebrity. The advertisement also promised a free bottle of wine, autographed by Raiola.
This planned distribution caught the attention of the ABC who put the brakes on the distribution of the autographed bottle of wine at the event, according to owner Peter Grippo.
“There was supposed to be a wine signing but that was stopped before the night began,” was the message posted on Brooklyn Square’s Facebook page after the posting of this original story.
The day after the event, Raiola Tweeted, “Great time last night at Brooklyn Square in Jackson NJ. The best upside down pizza and the fans were amazing as always. Of course the support of our friends is always a plus.”
Notice of the action was made by members of the community in attendance at the event who mentioned that no bottles of wine were given.
The ABC on Thursday would not release any details of their operation in Jackson, but Zach Hosseini, spokesperson for the ABC said, “As a matter of course, we do not confirm or comment on any ongoing investigation.” Hosseini did not disclose whether or not any citations were issued.
“It is illegal in New Jersey to sell or serve alcohol without a license. It is also illegal to give away alcohol,” Hosseini said.
The Jackson Police Department was not notified and was also not aware of the ABC’s presence.
Four weeks later, on March 10th, Raiola’s Staten Island restaurant, the Drunken Monkey was shut down by the New York State Liquor Authority.
According to New York Law, a convicted felon may not own or be partner in any establishment with a liquor license. New Jersey’s liquor laws are similar, prohibiting convicted felons from operating alcohol related businesses.
It is not known if the two actions were coordinated or related to the same investigation.
Township records showed that Brooklyn Square Pizza does not possess a liquor license.
New Jersey statute 2c:33-27 regulates “Bring Your Own Booze” (BYOB) laws for restaurants in New Jersey, stating, “No person who owns or operates a restaurant, dining room or other public place where food or liquid refreshments are sold or served to the general public, and for which premises a license or permit authorizing the sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption has not been issued.”
According to The Smoking Gun, Raiola was one of 15 defendants indicted and convicted for distributing cocaine in New York City in 2001. She pleaded guilty in 2003.
Editor’s Note: this story has been edited to include the advertisement and quotes from the establishment.