Liquor at a wine bar? Enoteca's going to find out

As another weekly recently reported, wine bar enoteca on the Downtown Mall has applied for an ABC license to sell liquor. But the news tidbit left us curious. In Virginia, don't you have to be a full-service restaurant to sell liquor? At enoteca there is no full kitchen, only a bunch of panni grills behind the bar.

Indeed, according to ABC regulations, a restaurant needs to serve "substantial entrees" on a regular basis, have "adequate facilities and sufficient employees for cooking, preparing and serving such meals for consumption at tables in dining areas on the premises and includes establishments specializing in full course meals with a single substantial entree," and serve no less than $4000 in food each month, "of which at least $2,000 shall be in the form of meals with entrees," to get a mixed beverage license.

However, according enoteca manager Marisa Catalano, the restaurant's panni offerings amount to a "full meal" and she believes they can convince the ABC licensing board that its kitchen facilities, despite there being no full kitchen, are substantial enough. Still, one downtown restaurant owner we spoke to (who wished to remain anonymous) thinks that's stretch. After all, Five Guys serves substantial meals, the owner pointed out, but they can't get a liquor license.

Not being ABC experts here, I guess we'll have to wait and see if enoteca's application goes through. If it does, Catalano says we can expect a number of high-end liquor offerings, such as scotches, campari, and grappas, though no mixed drinks.