2012-05-17 / Front Page

Tavern meets filing deadline

Restaurant resolves license issues raised by council
BY TIM RIEL

The Jamestown Tavern met the May 11 deadline for the criteria given by the Alcoholic Beverage Licensing Board, meaning the liquor license for the Portuguese American Citizens Club – which the tavern leases the property from – will not be suspended.

Despite reporting errors in last week’s Press article titled “PAC Club’s liquor license suspended,” the town never forced the Jamestown Tavern to stop selling alcoholic beverages. While Town Council President Mike Schnack did offer up at the May 3 hearing the idea to suspend the license, a compromise was met for a threeday window so the tavern could resolve the issues.

What the licensing board agreed upon at the May 3 hearing was threefold. First, both the town and PAC Club had to sustain that three violations existed. Secondly, the PAC Club and the Jamestown Tavern had until noon on May 11 to correct all three infringements. Lastly, if all the violations weren’t dealt with by the deadline, the liquor license would be suspended until the Town Council’s next regularly scheduled meeting, which would be May 21.

According Cale Keable, the tavern’s attorney, the violations – selling liquor without a license of its own, illuminated palm trees outside the building, and an outdoor bar – were rectified by the deadline.

The faux palm trees were removed prior to the May 3 hearing, and the outdoor structure, which the tavern argued wasn’t even a bar, was also taken down. The most serious violation facing the tavern – selling liquor under the PAC Club’s license, and not one of its own – was also taken care of. According to Town Clerk Cheryl Fernstrom, a transfer application was submitted Friday morning.

Testimony from Police Chief Ed Mello at the hearing brought the violations to light.

The next step is for the Town Council, sitting as the Alcoholic Beverage Licensing Board, to approve advertising for a hearing at its May 21 meeting. Keable sees no reason why the application would be denied.

“We’ve complied with the Town Council’s requests and we think it’s a good transfer application,” he said. “We can’t guarantee it’ll go through, but we don’t know why it wouldn’t be approved.”

From there, things get a little dicier. According to Fernstrom, the licensing board first has to vote to advertise a public hearing, which must be held in order for the transfer to be complete. The town, by law, must advertise it twice in the Press. Those two weeks, she said, would be May 24 and May 31.

Because the Financial Town Meeting is being held on June 4, the next regularly scheduled meeting of the council would be June 18. To expedite the process, Fernstrom said that a special meeting would be held on June 11 to hold the hearing.

All dates aren’t set in stone, though. The application still has to get through the council’s meeting Monday. Also, abutting neighbors to the Jamestown Tavern are expected to show up for the hearing to contest the transfer. At the May 3 meeting, a letter from one concerned neighbor was read into the record. Also, Councilor Bill Murphy was nostalgic in his remarks, saying that the Jamestown Tavern isn’t in line with the history of the PAC Club.

The PAC’s attorney, John A. Murphy, disagrees. “Going back to my childhood, when I was growing up to the 1950s, there were always drummers and buglers outside the club,” he said. “There were always musical events there.”

Murphy also said that the public should understand that the license runs with the location. If the transfer license is approved following a public hearing, the Jamestown Tavern can’t open up a bar somewhere else on the island and serve liquor under that license.

“And then if the operator leaves, an application would have to be filed to transfer it back to the Holy Ghost Society,” said Murphy. The Holy Ghost Society is the parent of the PAC Club.

Said Keable, “We hope it all works out. We are looking forward to continue serving the town great food.”

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