Cigar bar hit with fine af­ter po­lice in­ci­dents

Pawtucket Times - - FRONT PAGE - By JONATHAN BISSONNETTE jbis­son­[email protected]­tuck­et­times.com

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

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