Following two liquor license violations, hearing planned for International Cafe

Following two liquor license violations, hearing planned for International Cafe

LINCOLN - Written up by police twice for operating after hours, the owner of International Cafe must appear before the Town Council for a show cause hearing next month.

The hearing, scheduled for the Town Council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 22, will determine whether owner Elia Nassios can continue to operate at 1526 Old Louisquisset Pike with a full BV license. Violating the terms of the liquor license, as stated in the Town Charter, can mean potential suspension or revocation of the license, as well as a fine of up to $500.

A police report from Sunday, Aug. 18, was submitted to the Town Council as a communication at a regular meeting on Sept. 17, that detailed Lincoln Patrol Officer Richard Bousquet's account of finding almost 20 patrons inside the restaurant after 2 a.m., six of whom were drinking.

But this is not the only time police have cited Nassios, whose address is listed on reports as the same as the restaurant's. He told The Breeze this was incorrect and he lives in Smithfield. He declined to comment further.

A police report obtained by The Breeze states that less than a month later, on Wednesday, Sept. 11, Patrol Officer Keith Feather entered International Cafe at 3 a.m. to find patrons sitting at the bar, but this time with bottles of water. Loud music was reportedly playing both times.

In August, the door was open and 15 cars were in the parking lot when police arrived at International Cafe at approximately 2:05 a.m., according to Bousquet's report.

"As I exited my cruiser, I could hear music (coming) from the cafe," the report states.

Once he entered the building with Officer Brandan Fox, they found about 18 customers, excluding the staff.

"There was six customers drinking at the bar and about 12 customers in the other parts of the cafe," the report states. "Officer Fox and I cleared the cafe out."

The bartender on duty was Suzanne Scapicchio of Woonsocket, the report states.

Bousquet said he advised Scapicchio and Nassios that, per the liquor license, no customers were to be in the building after 1:30 a.m., and that the building had to be empty by 2 a.m.

The Town Charter states that operating after 1 a.m. is prohibited, and that all patrons must leave the premises within a half-hour of the legal closing hour, while employees have to be out within one hour of closing or notify Lincoln Police of a need to be in the building "for legitimate business purposes."

"Management and bona fide employees may not consume, dispense or open alcoholic beverages or beverage containers after the legal closing hour," the charter states.

In reading the police report during the Town Council meeting, Councilor Arthur Russo said, "That seems to be a clear violation of the license."

In the police report of the Sept. 11 incident, which the Town Council has not reviewed publicly, Feather states he observed several cars in the parking lot and lights on inside the building.

"I attempted to gain access to the building to investigate the incident, but the building was locked," the report states. "I observed several people in the building located around the bar and loud music playing in the building. After several minutes of knocking on the door, the owner Elia Nassios allowed officers into the building."

The report continues, "Nassios apologized for the music, stating that he did not know the music was loud. Nassios stated that even (though) there were people in the building, they were not open and he was not serving alcohol."

Feather said he observed three people sitting at the bar, each with a bottle of water. Nassios reportedly told him that two were employees and the third was a friend that was leaving the country that weekend.

"Nassios said he was aware that they were not allowed in the building at this time," the report states.

Feather then was able to clear the building without incident, the report states.

Since opening his restaurant in the former Birch Tree Pub location in September 2012, Nassios has faced problem after problem with the town, mostly because of a concrete patio he poured without prior approval.

A year after it was put in place, it still sits unused primarily because the parking on site, previously grandfathered because of the age of the building, was no longer sufficient once the patio tripled the size of the building footprint.

The patio construction has also prompted councilors to voice concerns about subsequent fencing, safety, accessible restrooms and outdoor entertainment.

Councilors have denied Nassios' liquor license expansion application for the patio twice, and because the license is tied to food, nothing can yet be served outside.

Prior to opening in Lincoln, Nassios owned European Cafe on Douglas Pike in Smithfield, where he faced Town Council discipline twice after neighbors complained about loud music on the outdoor patio. A cook was also reportedly shot in the leg during a parking lot altercation in 2011.

Nassios entered a voluntary receivership, a form of bankruptcy, for European Cafe in 2012 because of the economic downturn and his high debt burden, Nassios' attorney, Richard Nicholson, had then told The Breeze. The restaurant was then reportedly sold to its major creditor for $45,000.