April 11, 2014

Springfield Nightclub Shutting Down

A Springfield nightclub will be temporarily shutting down, following a meeting between an owner of the club and the city's director of licensing, a spokesperson for Mayor Domenic Sarno said.

Director of Communications James Leydon said that Lux nightclub on Worthington Street will cease operations.

According to Leydon, Director of Licensing Alesia Days met with Paul Ramesh, who is in the process of selling the club to Sherwood Jarrett, who is overseeing Lux's day-to-day operations with Gabriel Reyes.

"Attorney Alesia Days has indicated that the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission has raised administrative issues with the pending transfer to Mr. Jarrett. Until these issues are resolved, Lux nightclub will remain closed," Leydon wrote in a statement sent to 22News.

The nightclub on lower Worthington Street received recent attention, first after a shooting outside the club, and again when an assistant city solicitor issued a cease-and-desist order regarding an upcoming event there.

April 8, 2014

Cities and Towns Seeks Add'l Licenses

Good piece in the Gloucester Times about the cap/quota system in cities and towns across the state, and recent efforts made to increase the number of liquor licenses available in any given municipality.

December 25, 2013

Three Danvers businesses caught in liquor sting

Two Danvers restaurants and one liquor store were caught selling liquor to an underaged "operative," Police Chief Neil Ouellette told the selectmen at a recent meeting, as reported by the Danvers Herald.

"Unfortunately, I'm a little bit troubled to report that we had three situations of non-compliance where an underage operative was, in fact, served alcohol beverages," Ouellette said.

The compliance check sting was conducted on Friday, Nov. 29, in the late afternoon and early evening. While the majority of restaurants that serve alcohol and liquor stores in town passed the test, Brutole Restaurant on Route 1 and Hong Kong Café at 12 Maple St. served the young woman a Bud Light. And the woman was able to purchase a bottle of red wine at Merchant Liquor Mart at 88 High St.

The Police Department conducts the compliance checks twice a year in an effort to remind owners of liquor licenses that Danvers strongly backs strict enforcement of underage drinking laws.

"Chief, I'm very disappointed," said Selectman Dan Bennett. "Three violations on one night. We had been doing pretty good. I thought, your sting, if you will call it that, was a good educational tool, letting people know that we are coming out to check. We expect people to be compliant."

Ouellette explained that each of the businesses was in violation of the rule in Massachusetts state law that makes it illegal to sell or furnish an alcoholic beverage to a person under 21.

December 19, 2013

Franklin council to review penalties for liquor license violators

Franklin town councilors will discuss new guidelines for penalizing businesses caught selling liquor to minors, according to the Milford Daily News.

All businesses found to have illegally sold alcohol to a minor face possible suspension of their liquor licenses, with the penalties handed down by the council. In recent years, the majority of violations have come as a result of police department sting operations, during which a teenager working with law enforcement attempts to purchase an alcoholic beverage.

Usually the council asks the police chief for a recommendation before doling out punishment.

The proposed guidelines, though, would give councilors a starting point when deciding how long suspensions should run.

According to the guidelines, first offenders are to receive a three- to five-day suspension, with three days to serve and two put on hold for two years unless there is another violation; second-time offenders would get a five- to seven-day suspension, with three to serve and five put off; and third-time offenders face losing their license for five to seven days.

The suspensions should begin on the day the violation occurs, according to the guidelines.

There are several factors the council could consider when deciding the penalties, including the business' willingness to acknowledge the violation and history of suspensions.

The state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission reviews each case after the local liquor license governing board makes its ruling. The ABCC may weigh the difference between violations resulting from sting operations differently than those that occur under normal circumstances.

October 27, 2013

Hingham restaurant owners oppose proposed liquor license fee hike

Several Hingham restaurant owners sent the Selectmen a clear message -- not to double the current all-alcoholic common victualler annual license fees -- from $2,000 to $4,000 as recently proposed, as reported by wicked local hingham.

Representatives/owners from Scarlet Oak Tavern, Salsa's, Burtons Grill, Liberty Grill, Eat Well (Tosca, Star's, Tosca Caffe), the Square Cafe, Ocean Kai, and the Allston-based Restaurant & Business Alliance attended a recent meeting when the issue appeared on the agenda. Most spoke -- none in favor of the $2,000 increase, with a few open to a gradual increase over time.

A recent survey of 19 comparable communities found that Hingham's all-alcoholic common victualler license fees are far lower than those of some of the other towns.

As a result, Town Administrator Ted Alexiades recommended increasing the annual fee in that liquor license category only.
This is part of an ongoing effort to look at what the town is charging for various services to ensure associated costs are covered.

Salsa's owner David Littlefield said he was "blindsided" when he received a letter from the Selectmen -- sent to each of the 26 establishments in Hingham that hold that particular type of license to inform them that a fee increase is under consideration. "This year has been tough," he said. He opposed the proposed hike. "Restaurants are part of the fabric of the community."

Liberty Grill owner Christian Thompson strongly opposed the proposed increase. "I feel that restaurants are a vehicle that generates revenue for the town," he said, referring in part to meals tax funds. "I not only disapprove of the proposed increase, but I also think the fee should be rolled back."

A number of restaurant owners/operators said that last winter's snowstorms and the current Red Sox playoffs and other sports events have significantly cut into their business.

Selectmen Chair Bruce Rabuffo announced that the board received a letter from Hingham Attorney Michael Nuesse on behalf of a number of local restaurateurs who are concerned about the proposed hike.
"These business owners/operators feel a more thoughtful and careful review of any cost increase to any liquor license issued by the town is warranted," the letter states.

October 24, 2013

Milford selectmen consider stricter penalties for liquor license offenders

The Milford Daily News reports that selectmen are considering implementing stricter penalties for package stores and establishments with pouring licenses caught selling to minors, including requiring a suspension for first-time offenders.

Town Counsel Gerry Moody first brought the issue to selectmen in July while preparing for a hearing at the state's Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.

The informal policy of the board on a first offense of a liquor license holder being found serving a minor is only to impose a "warning" to the establishment, Moody said.

"The difficulty becomes, as my research has revealed, that such an action will not be considered part of the progressive discipline in response to a first offense," writes Moody in a memo to selectmen. "The ABCC does not consider such warnings or 'on probation' status to be discipline that can be counted in later settings."

Moody notes recent ABCC decisions, not necessarily on Milford cases, has been to reduce suspensions in cases where establishments have only seen warnings in the past because they are "treating the matters under consideration as first offenses."

"Your Board probably should consider a more detailed and slightly more formal progressive discipline policy," Moody wrote.

The proposed penalty proposed by Moody would include a one-day suspension for a first offense and considers imposing suspensions of three, seven and 13 days for second, third and fourth offenses, respectively.

"You will probably want to maintain sufficient flexibility for later offenses, with increased or decreased amount based upon mitigating or extenuating circumstances," Moody wrote.

The board will consider the penalties proposed by Moody.

October 18, 2013

Six Westfield Establishments Cited for Sales to Minors

The Westfield License Commission handed down suspensions and issued warnings to six businesses with liquor licenses after city police provided testimony of minors being served alcoholic beverages during a sting operation.

The sting was conducted by the Community Policing Bureau of the Westfield Police Department last August under strict guidelines established by the License Commission under state law, Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission (ABCC) and local policies.

The commission handed down the most stringent suspension to Ryan's Package Store located on Franklin Street because of its recent history. The board voted to impose an eight-day suspension of the license, then modified that suspension.

Ryan's will have to close for two days later this month. An additional six days of the suspension will be held in abeyance for the next eight months and forgiven if there are no future violation for selling alcohol to minors undere the age of 21-years-old.

Two restaurants were also cited for violations during the sting operation. Pasquale's Restaurant on Elm Street was also issued a four-day suspension, which will be held in abeyance for the next 12 months, while Clemenza's, which opened just prior to the sting, was issued a letter of warning based upon the owner Anthony Martone's history in other communities.

Two package stores, Pop the Cork on East Silver Street and Mr. Phipps on North Elm Street, were also cited for underage sales. Pop the Cork, which is under new management, was issued a three-day suspension to be held in abeyance for eight months, while Mr. Phipps was issued a letter of warning.

The Whip City Brew pub on North Elm Street, cited for two counts of underage serving, was issued a four-day suspension to be held in abeyance for 12 months. Board members noted that the pub has made significant changes to reduce problems.

October 14, 2013

Brookline Mulls Alcohol Changes

Proposed regulations that allow restaurant goers to bring their own alcohol and better define how licenses are transferred were discussed at the latest Board of Selectmen meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 8., according to wickedlocalbrookline & the Brookline Tab.

The changes are being proposed for the town's alcoholic beverages regulations and food sales regulations, and most of the revisions were characterized as "technical corrections" by Selectmen Chairwoman Betsy DeWitt.

Nonetheless, some businesses voiced concerns over a few of the regulations.
Adam Barnosky, an attorney in Brookline, said some license holders were concerned about the new 10 a.m. designated start time to serve alcohol, since some businesses have served drinks earlier for special occasions, such as one business that showed a Red Sox game in the early morning when the team was playing in Japan.
He said Coolidge Corner Clubhouse also opens at 9 a.m. on Saturdays.

Selectman Dick Benka said businesses could petition the Selectmen to serve alcohol earlier if they wish.

Associate Town Counsel Patty Correa said the revised liquor regulations seek to enhance alcohol training requirements, as well as require the use of a "crowd manager" at some businesses, at the behest of the Fire Department.
The food regulations include a section about BYOB, namely that businesses without a liquor license can offer it.
However, those businesses would not be able to offer a corkage fee because that constitutes a sale, said DeWitt. A corkage fee is commonly charged by businesses that offer BYOB and it allows a customer to consume an alcoholic beverage onsite. The fee refers to the act of uncorking a bottle, which the restaurant employees do. Corkage fee prices vary depending on the establishment.
The BYOB regulations make it clear to restaurants that they cannot permit the consumption of alcohol by minors at the restaurant, and cannot permit drinking by someone who is intoxicated, among other rules.
Selectwoman Nancy Daly was in favor of the corkage fee, arguing that by not allowing businesses to charge for uncorking, that many would decide to not offer the service.

October 11, 2013

Justine's Table waiting on an alcohol license from Wellesley

Justine's Grill, the newly re-named restaurant on Route 9 in Wellesley, will have to keep waiting for an all-alcohol license. At a recent meeting, the selectmen again questioned the safety of the parking situation and challenged the consistency of the new application with past licenses.

The restaurant--formerly known as Justine's Table--was initially issued a common victualler license under the condition that 22 off-site parking spaces be made available on the same side of Route 9. At a hearing in late September, owner Gordon Breidenbach and his attorney presented the board with a plan that calls for off-site parking across Route 9 at Wellesley Mazda.

The initial plan to park guests' cars at the neighboring Lee Volvo had to be modified when that dealership was sold to a new owner. According to Selectman Don McCauley, that represents a material change from the initial parking arrangement laid out in the restaurant's CV license.

"I also have significant concerns about relying on the Mazda dealership on the other side of Route 9," McCauley said, stressing the issue of safety involved with people crossing the highway under the cover of darkness.

Katherine L. "Gig" Babson, chairman of the board, said those material differences as well as the safety issues would preclude the board from approving the restaurant's license. The hearing on Monday, Sept. 23, was the most recent of multiple hearings on the issue since the beginning of the summer.

Past attempts by Justine's to acquire a license have been hampered by similar parking concerns as well as uncertainty about the ownership of the restaurant.

The board had expressed concern before about the involvement of the Behrend family, which has been working to develop the area around the restaurant. According to Hanley, those issues have been resolved and Breidenbach is now the sole owner.

Still, the board expressed concern over a revelation from last month that the restaurant has been receiving a break on the rent from the landlord--Dean Behrend--until a liquor license is granted.

"The landlord has put significant equity into this business at this point," selectman Barbara Searle said of the rent abatement, "whether he's an owner or not." That arrangement, she added, is "extraordinary."

According to McCauley, the conditions of the liquor and CV licenses--with parking available as needed on a daily basis--need to be brought into concert with one another before the board addresses the safety issues associated with parking attendants crossing Route 9.

October 10, 2013

Burlington Looks to Add 8 Additional Liquor Licenses

Burlington Town Meeting has voted to allow the Board of Selectmen to seek additional liquor licenses for specific locations in town, as reported by the Burlington Patch.

The article was put forward by Precinct 6 Town Meeting Member Sonia Rollins. It is also supported by the Burlington Area Chamber of Commerce, of which Rollins is the chairperson. The Burlington Board of Selectmen voted 4-0 to support the warrant article during a meeting in September.

The vote allows the board to seek eight additional licenses from the state. Originally the warrant article was for 14 licenses but Rollins put forward a modified version during the meeting at the suggestion of the state. The six licenses removed from the warrant had less specific limitation on locations and the language was deemed too vague.

The eight licenses approved will be for specific locations. Three will be limited to the Burlington Mall, three will be for New England Executive Park and two will be for a multi-screen theater complex at 20 South Avenue, AMC Theater.

A few Town Members questioned the need for more liquor licenses in Burlington. Currently the town has 27 all-alcohol licenses, five beer and wine licenses and there are an extra eight licenses set for the 3rd Avenue/Northwest Park project.

September 4, 2013

Two Franklin Businesses Caught in Sting

Ichigo Ichie was one of two Franklin businesses caught selling alcohol to a minor during recent police liquor stings, the Japanese restaurant's second such violation in as many years.

On June 28, four Franklin police officers and two underage operatives conducted liquor compliance checks at 35 businesses from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Twenty-seven passed, while six were closed.

Ichigo Ichie, 837 West Central St., and Village Mall Liquors, 60 Franklin Village Drive, failed the checks.

At Ichigo Ichie, a 19-year-old "decoy" was served a glass of beer, according to the police report. The 19-year-old at Village Mall Liquors bought a 12-pack of beer without showing ID, police said.

The latest violation marks Ichigo Ichie's second in two years.

It last failed a compliance check in July 2012, six months after celebrating its grand opening. The Town Council suspended the restaurant's liquor license for one day; Ichigo Ichie received its license on Oct. 11, 2012, according to the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.

Village Mall Liquors has never recorded a violation.

Both businesses were scheduled to appear before the council Wednesday night for hearings on the violations, but the meeting was pushed to next Wednesday.

September 3, 2013

New Wellesley Restaurant Waiting on License

Justine's Table, a relatively new upscale restaurant on Route 9, will have to keep waiting for a liquor license -- the Board of Selectmen this week continued its hearing on the matter to next month.

The restaurant has tried and failed several times to become licensed to sell beer, wine and liquor.

The selectmen ruled against making a final decision until restaurant owner Gordon Breidenbach addresses the board's concerns about parking and the restaurant's relationship with the landlord.

The restaurant's past attempts to obtain an all-alcohol license have been thwarted by inconsistencies with the restaurant's ownership, according to board chairman Katherine Babson, as reported by the Wellesley Townsman.

Justine's was first approved for a common victualler license in Feb. 2012. At that time, Breidenbach was listed as the sole owner on the application. However, other documents attributed to Classic Restaurant Group, the restaurant's managing entity, listed Maryellen Behrend as a key stakeholder in the business.

Behrend's husband Dean is the landlord for the site, but she is no longer involved with the restaurant, said Joe Hanley, Breidenbach's lawyer.
The restaurant has been receiving a $17,000 yearly break in its rent contingent on the approval of a liquor license, representatives for Justine's Table said.

The board also expressed concerns about an increased demand for parking. Plans for the remaining space at 978 Worcester St. call for a residential development that has not been built yet.

Town Executive Director Hans Larsen said that as that site begins to develop, traffic and parking could become a larger issue.

According to Breidenbach, the restaurant has never had an issue with parking, and has not yet needed to employ an off-site parking plan since it opened.

He came to the hearing with a petition that he said had been signed by hundreds of people in favor of a liquor license. Hanley said that the approval of the license would allow Justine's Table to provide its customers with an important amenity.

Town Counsel Al Robinson encouraged Breidenbach to further elaborate on the parking options and alternatives ahead of the continuation of the hearing on Sept. 3. He added that it would be important for Breidenbach to make a clear statement about the financial relationship between the restaurant and its landlord at the September meeting.
"You're either going to make it or you're not," Robinson said of Breidenbach's application. "We might as well squeeze out the best solution here."

August 26, 2013

Peabody Licensees Caught in Sting

Champion's Pub and the Nordstrom Cafe Bistro will both be before the Peabody liquor board Monday night for serving alcohol to minors.

Licensing Board members said earlier this month that both establishments were caught up in a recent alcohol sting conducted by the Peabody Police Department.

Police randomly conduct compliance checks during the year at all businesses in the city that are licensed to sell or serve alcohol. Typically, underage college students are recruited as operatives to work with police.

The public hearing notice says the sting was conducted on June 21. Monday's hearing is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. in the basement conference room at City Hall.

In the past, the Licensing Board has given first-time offenders a warning and encouraged them to make sure their staff is properly trained to check IDs. Establishments with violations may also receive suspensions.

If you or your business receive a violation, please call Fogelman & Fogelman for assistance (617-559-1530).

August 20, 2013

Westford (MA) Liquor Store Fails to Secure License

The owners of a yet-to-be-opened Westford liquor store are in some hot water after they were found stocking the Cornerstone Square shop's shelves without obtaining a liquor license, as reported by wickedlocal.com.

According to a report from the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC), Westford Wine and Spirits, located in the new Cornerstone Square shopping plaza, received a shipment of alcohol from a closed liquor shop in Burlington.

As a result, the owners of Westford Wine and Spirits had to fulfill a series of mandates set by the state liquor authority including paying distributors back hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of alcohol by Aug. 20, which they purchased and did not pay for, according to the report.

The liquor store owners were charged with transporting and possessing alcohol without a license, said Jon Carlisle, spokesman for the Massachusetts Office of the State Treasurer, which oversees the ABCC. Although the town approved a liquor license transfer last fall, it was never approved by the state.

In connection with the offense, Burlington-based liquor store Burlington Wine and Spirits, at 43 Middlesex Turnpike, was fined $37,780 by the ABCC. The penalty was initially a 30-day suspension of the store's liquor license, but the fine was later issued in lieu of the suspension. The liquor authority charged the shop for unauthorized transportation of alcoholic beverages, said Carlisle.

The report stated the owners of 34 Cambridge St., Burlington, liquor store Liquid Luck LLC, which goes by the name of Crossroads Beer and Wine, did not renew its liquor license at the end of 2012, but still ordered shipments of alcohol until Dec. 27. After the store closed, as much as $180,000 worth of alcohol was transported by U-Haul truck to Westford Wine and Spirits and then stocked in the store, the report stated.

Many of the two Burlington shops and the Westford shop owners are relatives.

Westford Wine and Spirits is owned by Visoth Nvon and Malavy King of Malvis Enterprises, Inc. Liquid Luck LLC was owned by Khemara Kang who is the nephew of Nvon and is the son of Malavy Kang, who are both corporate officers of Malvis Enterprises.

Nvon and his sister Malavy King own Burlington Wine and Spirits, which is also a Malvis Enterprises shop. Malvis Enterprises is located out of the Westford Wine and Spirits and Burlington Wine and Spirits locations.

However, according to Kang the violations were "just a misunderstanding and we expressed that to the ABCC board and we are going through the usual movements of how they work," he said.

July 12, 2013

Mansfield pharmacy gets liquor license

After debating the need for a liquor store in the area and the unusual retail combination, selectmen this week -- in a split vote -- granted the owner of Community Care Pharmacy a license to sell beer and wine next to her future 214 Rumford Avenue drug store, as reported by the Enterprise News.

"I've never stopped anyone from starting a business and trying to succeed in this town," selectman George Dentino said Wednesday night.

Lauretta Okoye of Hill Street in Foxboro, said her pharmacy would occupy the smaller part of the 2,000 square-foot retail premises under the new 24 loft-style condominium structure.

The Enterprise News reports that Okoye, a Northeastern University graduate with almost 20 years in the pharmacy business, has worked for small independents and large chains in town and in Boston.

She said larger companies such as Walgreen's and Wal-Mart often combine alcohol and drug sales.

"It's not a new model for business in Massachusetts," she said.

She is in the process of applying to the state Board of Pharmacies for a license for the store she said is designed to serve the community more than loading shelves with product.

"Anyone that walks into my pharmacy will come back again," she said.

Selectmen struggled with the mixed-use concept but said their job was to decide on the need for another liquor store in the area. Although there are a half dozen licensed shops in the area, none of the previous license requests were denied.

Selectman Kevin Moran said the town was encouraging a variety of businesses to open in the downtown area.

"This is something different," he said.

Dentino said the question of need would "be satisfied by the success or demise of the operation."

The vote was split. Moran, Dentino and selectman Olivier Kozlowski voted in favor of granting the license, Chairman Jess Aptowitz opposed it and selectman Doug Annino abstained because he designed the development.