Booze issue pits Tacoma school against pizza parlor

TACOMA, Wash. -- Officials from a Tacoma school weren't happy when a pizza parlor that sells alcohol tried to open up across the street.

Nobody has a problem with pizza, but the battle is over the space between the school and the booze.

Tacoma's Guy Snell wants to bring new life to I Street with Sammy's Pizza. The problem is, he also wants to sell beer, wine and spirits at the restaurant, and local parents say it would be just too close to Lowell Elementary School.

"I am a little bit stuck. It's a little frustrating," Snell said. "The perception that adding liquor adds trouble."

Parents and school officials fought back and told the Liquor Control Board to deny Snell's liquor application. Washington law says schools can object if a business sells alcohol within 500 feet of the school. The board gives school what amounts to veto power over licenses that are in the bubble.

From door to door, the pizza shop is located exactly 426 feet and four inches from the school.

Parents like Mike Abella say they're fine with the pizza, but they have a problem with the booze.

"With kids at recess just across the street, I don't know if that's a great idea," Abella said.

Other parents aren't as concerned.

"I don't see people going to the bar between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. when the kids are in school," said Lisah Song.

Chris Mullins isn't against alcohol, but he doesn't think severing booze so close to a school is worth the risk.

"Bringing anyone and adding more traffic to this corridor right here is not good with the kids around," Mullins said.

But Snell said he just wants to start a dialogue and prove people wrong about his pizza place.

"I just want to say, 'What can we do? Talk to me,'" he said.

Snell said he wants to work with the school to change his hours or even stick to just beer and wine. The district, its legal counsel and Lowell's principal wouldn't comment on the story.