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Roosevelt Row's Tediberto's Has a Liquor License Problem

Roosevelt Row vegan Mexican restaurant Tediberto's.
Roosevelt Row vegan Mexican restaurant Tediberto's.
Photos by Benjamin Leatherman

See also: Tediberto's: Drop Your Vitamix and Put on Your Animal-Friendly Dancing Shoes, Vegans, We're Goin' Out to Eat See also: Vegan Mexican Restaurant Coming to Downtown Phoenix See also: Vegan Mexican Restaurant Owner Not Helping Stereotype of Vegans

It's one of the worst kept secrets in the downtown Phoenix culture scene: Tediberto's, the vegan Mexican restaurant located along Roosevelt Row, has become a popular late-night hangout for artists, hipsters, trendy types, and party monsters.

And one of the big reasons the eatery, which opened in late June, has become so popular for late-night adventures is not just because it stays open until 3 a.m. or later on weekends or its unique cuisine. When we visited Tediberto's in the hours following the most recent First Friday art walk on August 3, the establishment was serving beer and booze, which New Times has learned was being done without a liquor license.

And it was being done after last call, when all establishments serving alcohol are required by Arizona law to stop selling liquor. When asked about this, the owner of Tediberto's had no comment.

A table at Tediberto's where patrons were drinking PBR following First Friday.
A table at Tediberto's where patrons were drinking PBR following First Friday.

According to the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control's databases, Tediberto's does not posses an active or inactive liquor license in any form. There is also no record of the restaurant having been granted any one-time permit to sell liquor for any special events.

It certainly appeared as if it did in the hours following August's First Friday, the vegan Mexican restaurant was hopping with more than two dozen customers, many of whom were sipping cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon, bottles of Stella Artois, and a cocktail here and there.

Patrons sat at Tediberto's glowing tables or stood at the bar while imbibing PBR and other adult beverages or headed outside for a smoke in the parking lot, where a doorman was checking the IDs of those wanting to be inside the hotspot.

Tediberto's waitstaff was doing brisk business selling brews and libations from its bar during the three-hour period we were at the restaurant, popping open brews and mixing up drinks when they weren't bringing out orders of food from the kitchen. Things got so busy that there was a pile of money sitting behind the bar waiting to be counted and put into a cashbox. Owner Yin Macatabas appeared to be pretty busy herself as she moved between the kitchen and bar.

The party kept going well into the night and way past 2 a.m. and the beer and booze continued to be purchased.

We approached Macatabas earlier this past week for comment on the illegal liquor sales that were taking place during First Friday. "Absolutely not," she stated in regards to commenting.

In addition to repeatedly asking us to leave the premises, Macatabas also initially claimed that she had "no awareness" of any such sales taking place at the restaurant.

When shown cell phone pictures of PBR cans on Tediberto's bar, tables, and in the hands of patrons, she accused us of staging the photographs.

"You could've just come in here and taken that picture right now," Macatabas says.

According to Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control spokesperson Lee Hill, getting caught selling liquor without a license is a Class 1 misdemeanor with possible fines of $1,500 for the first instance and/or a possible additional criminal citation. Serving booze after hours offers similar charges and penalties.

Being convicted of either charge would also greatly hinder the possibility of an establishment obtaining a liquor license though legal means, Hill says.

 

The bar at Tediberto's during the early morning hours of Saturday, August 4.
The bar at Tediberto's during the early morning hours of Saturday, August 4.

Becoming legally licensed to serve alcohol is already a complicated and time-consuming process. Carla Wade, who owns the nearby Carly's Bistro with her husband John Logan, says it takes anywhere from six months to a year to get a liquor license.

She estimates that the couple devoted around 20 hours per week for the better part of a year trying to nail down the license for Carly's and become legal to sell alcohol, which included dealing with bureaucratic red tape, coordinating with both state and municipal agencies, and making numerous renovations and alterations to the property.

Ira and Patricia Hayden, owners of Roosevelt Row art venue Gallery Celtica, are currently hip-deep in said process. The couple won a Series 7 liquor license, permitting the sale of beer and wine, back in May via a lottery held by Department of Liquor Licenses and Control.

Before they can transform their place into the Roosevelt Gallery and Bier House and pour their first glass of ale, Ira says the couple has to take care of numerous issues mandated by the City of Phoenix, such as ensuring the bathroom are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and possibly repaving the parking spaces behind the property.

"It's a very rigorous process that takes a lot of patience, effort, and time," Hayden says.

Because of all the effort it took for her restaurant to get properly licensed, Wade feels it's unfair for others who circumvent the process.

"For people who work hard to have a legal license and pay their taxes and do everything above board and work hard to achieve that and invest in that," Wade says. "I think it's unfair if someone tries to sell alcohol without going through the proper channels."

She also feels it's "not a good idea, on any level" to sell liquor illegally, as there are many consequences if caught.

"If you're serving alcohol unlicensed its just irresponsible, I think personally and [as] a businessperson," Wade says. "And then also, they're destroying any chances of a future license. They're jeopardizing their opportunity to have that."

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