January 24, 2017

Regulators OK liquor sales at Turning Stone Casino

VERONA, N.Y. (AP) – State liquor regulators approved a liquor license Thursday for a newly formed company to serve alcohol throughout most of the Oneida Indian Nation's Turning Stone Casino and Resort in Verona.

The New York State Liquor Authority's board voted unanimously to issue a license to CD Food & Beverage, a non-Indian spinoff of The Beeches Restaurant in nearby Rome.

The Beeches is owned by the Destito family. Chris Destito, who died earlier this year, was the husband of state Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito. CD Food & Beverage was formed less than two weeks before Chris Destito died and is owned by two of his brothers and a cousin.

The authority had repeatedly denied a liquor license for the resort itself but had issued thousands of temporary permits to The Beeches to serve alcohol at its nightclub, lounges and upscale restaurants.

The license will eliminate the need for daily liquor permits, and casino guests will no longer have to be members of one of the casino's clubs to buy alcohol. The agreement also allows for collection of a bed tax and sales tax on food and drink sold at the resort.

Approval came after nearly 40 people, most of them associated with businesses that regularly conduct business with the resort, endorsed the plan. A handful of speakers objected, including Oneida County Legislator Michael Hennessy.

“There are people involved with potential conflicts,” said Hennessy, who noted that the Oneidas had said when the resort opened in 1993 that alcohol would not be sold because it had been a long-standing problem for the tribe. “This whole program is questionable.”

Under the new deal, CD Food & Beverage will lease restaurant and hospitality space from Turning Stone. In turn, more than 1,200 Turning Stone employees will become employees of the Rome-based company.