Council members revoke restaurant’s business license

Council members revoke restaurant’s business license

Guild owners now seeking to evict Faroles Restaurant

PAWTUCKET – Members of the city’s Board of License Commissioners took the unusual step last week of revoking a restaurant’s license to do business. They said the owner repeatedly ignored their orders prohibiting operations.

City Solicitor Frank Milos said he’d never seen a situation like he experienced with Jose Ruiz and his Faroles Restaurant in his 25 years practicing law.

City Councilor Tim Rudd, the district councilman in the district where Faroles is located, at 82 Bayley St., said Ruiz had lost all credibility after making a number of excuses for why people were still inside his business on multiple occasions after the city had shut it down early last month.

“I have a real hard time believing anything that you’re saying,” said Rudd. “I’m just dumbfounded, flabbergasted, honestly.”

The councilman said he doesn’t enjoy jeopardizing someone’s livelihood, but said Ruiz did not appear to be “mentally fit” to stay open. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if Ruiz was back at the restaurant the next day, cooking more chicken wings and serving alcohol as he’d done previously.

Rudd said he had never come to a conclusion that a business should be shut down in his more than five years on the council, but said the city couldn’t keep putting up with this “thorn in our side” as the neighborhood sees redevelopment, and couldn’t put residents at risk of harm.

He said he doesn’t want to waste police resources monitoring a business such as Faroles. Ruiz either didn’t care or didn’t understand the restrictions board members were placing on him, said Rudd, but either case is equally concerning.

Faroles was a holdover tenant at The Guild complex, located at 461 Main St., headquartered there since before new owners purchased the complex two years ago. Jeremy Duffy, co-owner of the growing craft brewing consortium that includes Narragansett Beer, said Monday that the owners must first focus on evicting Faroles before they can consider a new tenant. He said they have started the eviction process.

Owners of The Guild are developing a major craft beer and food campus. The Faroles space on the Bayley Street side of the Main Street property is located within a few hundred feet of a planned new Pawtucket commuter rail station, and within a half-mile of a proposed future baseball stadium.

Faroles originally came under scrutiny after a stabbing and shooting at the establishment in late August.

The licensing board had already voted on Sept. 6 to suspend the license for Faroles, and that suspension still hadn’t taken effect as of the Oct. 2 hearing because Ruiz was still not in possession of his license from the Department of Health to serve food. Board members had warned that the next violation would prompt a stronger penalty.

Pawtucket police officers testified about two particular occasions where Ruiz was found in the establishment serving food and alcohol, on Sept. 9 and Sept. 17, after the board suspended the restaurant’s license.

Officer Micaela Butlin said she found Ruiz with a woman and small child on Sept. 9 just before noon. Ruiz had cooked between 30 and 40 chicken wings, she said, and she said he told her he was planning to cook more. He also claimed he was also there to clean the premises.

Ruiz later said he was cooking about 10 pounds of wings to bring to another location.

Officer Gregory Martin testified that five people were sitting at the Faroles bar drinking when he showed up to do a check on the restaurant on Sept. 17. The TV was on and there was a plate of food in the corner, he said.

Ruiz took about two minutes to let him in that night, said Martin, and only one of the five people was still in the establishment when he entered. Glasses previously seen on the counter were gone, but the officer said he smelled alcohol on the owner’s breath. Ruiz claimed that the people in the business were doing a remodeling project, but Martin said there was no evidence of renovation work or tools.

Milos noted that the owner would have to file an application to be allowed to do renovation work to begin with. The solicitor said he was “equally astounded” by the owner’s disregard for the rules. He told board members Ruiz was “acting in total contravention of the board’s order.”

Board members said they were clear that there was to be no cooking or drinking in the establishment. Rudd said it seemed like Ruiz was just “doing whatever you want to do,” no matter what anyone told him.

Ruiz said he made “a mistake” by cooking wings at the restaurant, but Rudd countered that cooking food without a health certificate is “more than a mistake.”

Rudd also brought up a third incident, on Sept. 22, where Ruiz and others were again found in the restaurant.

An attorney for Ruiz questioned witnesses last week, noting that the doors were locked and the restaurant wasn’t open for business when police showed up on multiple occasions.