Cigar bar hit with fine after police incidents
PAWTUCKET – A Newport Avenue cigar bar and lounge will have its liquor license suspended for two days later this month, and its owners will have to pay a $250 fine, as the Board of License Commissioners handed down a punishment for a series of incidents at the establishment last summer.
The license holders for Mr. Cigar World at 1438 Newport Ave. pleaded no contest in lieu of a formal hearing before the License Commissioners on Wednesday night. According to City Solicitor Frank J. Milos Jr., the twoday suspension of the liquor license will be on Friday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Jan. 26.
According to a memo from Pawtucket Police Capt. Thomas Newman, police responded to the cigar bar seven times over a four-month span from May through September 2018.
The first incident was at 11:35 p.m. on Thursday, May 10 after a neighbor complained about loud music and the doors to the establishment being open. On Friday, May 25, police responded to a DJ and entertainment continuing past 12:30 a.m. Police responded again two weeks later around 1:30 a.m. on Friday, June 15 for the bar operating after hours. On that night, officers responded for a disturbance and a possible fight in progress with about 10 patrons still in the bar. A bartender told police that she was unable to get the customers to leave prior to police arrival.
Two nights later, on Sunday, June 17, police responded at 12:51 a.m. for a DJ and entertainment continuing after 12:30 a.m. A month later,
on Monday, July 16, police investigated a sexual assault relative to an incident the day prior, police said, although the details of that case were confidential. A month later, on Saturday, Aug. 18, police responded at 5:41 p.m. for an unwanted party and disturbance.
The incident with the most detail in Newman’s memo was on Friday, Sept. 21. Newman explained that he entered Mr. Cigar World around 12:25 a.m. and advised the DJ that all entertainment must cease by 12:30 a.m. While outside the bar, about 11 minutes later, Newman said he could still hear music being played.
He entered the bar with an officer and met with a bartender who had been “repeatedly warned” in the past about the entertainment going beyond 12:30. The woman argued that she was not responsible for ensuring that the music was turned off and was described by police as “argumentative and defiant.” The bartender also was unable to produce a safe service certification card when asked by police.
Meanwhile, patrons in the establishment became verbally aggressive toward police and challenged the officers while they were in the bar, Newman said. Police left the venue and told the bartender to ensure everyone had left prior to 1:20 a.m.
Newman returned around 1:15 a.m. and observed multiple vehicles still in the parking lot, with patrons still milling around in the parking lot and inside the bar. Upon entering the bar, Newman observed six people still inside, including a bartender, DJ, a man with a hookah, and a bouncer drinking a glass of alcohol.
When the bartender was again informed that everyone had to be out of the bar by 1:20 a.m. and that all drinks had to be cleared, she again became defiant and argued that she had until 1:40 a.m. to close the bar.
The owners of the lounge were called before the Board of License Commissioners on Wednesday for alleged violations of laws and ordinances including operating after hours; failure to maintain control of patrons or employees; endangering the health, safety, and welfare of the general public; failure to prohibit the consumption of alcoholic beverages outside the licensed premises; failure to prohibit alcoholic beverages from being consumed on city streets and sidewalks; and allowing an employee to serve alcohol without required server training certification.
Attorney Michael Horan represented the license holders for Mr. Cigar World on Wednesday night. He said they have put in place several new measures that “hopefully will make certain that these violations do not occur again in the future.”
“This is their chance to straighten out and go straight. I’m pretty well satisfied that they get the message,” Horan said.
According to manager Rosadina Acosta, some of the changes that have been implemented in recent months have included installing decibel meters to monitor sound, hiring a security company to ensure there’s always someone at the door during events, and hiring a sound technician to prevent sound from disturbing the neighborhood.
“We’ve made a significant investment as you can see, since September to now there hasn’t been any issues and we’ll continue,” Acosta’s husband Anthony Davidson said. “We’re not going to drop the ball on anything.”
District 1 Councilor and Council President David P. Moran appeared relieved to hear that changes had been made at the lounge in his council district, but he also said he was disturbed to read reports outlining people walking around outside with alcohol and an employee who had shown “total disrespect for the Police Department and I will not tolerate that as the district councilman.”
“I don’t want you to get the wrong message. I want you to thrive, I want you to survive, I want you to stay in District 1, I do,” Moran said to Acosta and Davidson. “You’ve just got to stay within the rules … I think we’re hopefully all set going forward. It’s not a threat, I don’t do that, but I’ve been doing this a long time, it’s just a forewarning. You don’t want to come in again, I don’t want to see you in here again because then we just go another level … and then the next level or the next level could be closure and you don’t want that. I want you to stay open.”
In addition to the two-day license suspension and $250 fine, which must be paid by the end of the week, Moran added a stipulation that the lounge’s door must be closed at all times