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Restaurant suing New York State to reopen suddenly stripped of liquor license

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Posted at 6:20 PM, Dec 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-31 18:30:13-05

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WKBW) — A lawsuit that started with 37 restaurants in Erie County's Orange Zone suing New York State to reopen has now grown to almost 70.

"They've all indicated that they're basically on their last breath," Corey Hogan, owner and partner at HoganWillig Attorneys at Law, said.

Santora's Pizza Pub and Grill in Williamsville is one of those restaurants.

"It's really all about fairness for us. We're trying to figure out why Niagara County gets to be open. Why all other seven counties get to be open. Why every other industry in Erie County gets to be open except for restaurants," Paul Santora, owner of Santora's Pizza Pub and Grill, said.

Santora and Hogan appeared on Fox and Friends Thursday morning to discuss the lawsuit.

On Monday, a New York State Supreme Court judge said the state must compromise on the COVID-19 restrictions placed on restaurants. Restrictions that have forced all restaurants in Erie County to close their doors to dine-in customers and layoff thousands of workers.

"I don't know whether it was a coincidence or not but I know that on the following day about 7 o'clock that evening one or two members went into our client's premises," Hogan said.

"He took video as to what it was at night so you couldn't tell that there was openings [where walls meet the patio covering] and he said he would get back to us," Santora said.

At noon on Thursday, just hours after Santora appeared on Fox and Friends and days after he was in court, the State Liquor Authority came to the Santora's location on Transit and stripped them of their liquor license.

"They're claiming there's this immediate danger to the public," Hogan said, "We've been able to determine among all our clients, especially Santora's in this case, there has actually never been any kind of a virus transmission traced to our clients facility."

Santora is now fighting to get his liquor license back on top of fighting to reopen indoor dining. It's a fight, he said, that's over his right to make a living.

"I'm scared. I'm scared. The time has come where, I'm 56 years old, and it's the first time I'm actually scared to live in the United States of America," Santora said.

7 Eyewitness News reached out to the State Liquor Authority but did not hear back.