PAWTUCKET – The ongoing crackdown on poor behavior at local entertainment clubs took several different forms last week as the City Council’s Board of License Commissioners issued a series of penalties for past infractions and set up hearings for the same establishments.
Members voted to issue a summons to the owners of Vibe Lounge & Hookah Bar, 23 Broad St., to appear at the formal hearing Sept. 22 for failing to maintain control of patrons and endangering the safety of the public. That is related to the liquor license, not the entertainment license that was dealt with last week.
According to a letter from Capt. David Holden, a large fight took place outside the club on Aug. 28, with some 40 people involved. A violent altercation, with patrons targeting police, then ensued, and officers were attacked as they attempted to make arrests.
The scheduling of the Vibe hearing on Sept. 22 was separate from a vote last week to reduce the establishment’s entertainment cut-off by an hour, to 11:30 p.m., after Vibe operators two nights in a row, on July 17 and 18, ignored mandates to shut down at 12:30 a.m. Councilor Clovis Gregor suggested moving the time to midnight, but the board stuck with Councilor Terry Mercer’s recommendation.
The board instructed the clerk to issue a summons to International Club and Billar Inc., at 327 Barton St., to appear at a formal hearing on Sept. 22 for failing to maintain control of patrons and/or endangering the health and safety of the public, including allowing patrons to annoy and disturb the neighborhood.
The board also passed a motion issuing a summons to owners of the 67 Hookah Lounge, 602 Smithfield Ave., to appear at a formal hearing on Sept. 22 for operating after hours on Aug. 28.
Also last week, the board issued penalties to the International Club and Billar for past incidents of failing to keep patrons under control on July 17 and 18, under an agreement reached with the establishment’s attorney, Nick Hemond.
After initially discussing a fine of $2,000 and a 2-day liquor license suspension Sept. 9-10, plus one detail officer on duty for four weeks on Fridays and Saturdays, the board agreed to reduce the fine to $1,000 so the owners can better afford to put two detail officers on duty instead of one.
A Sept. 22 hearing for International Club and Billar will focus on an Aug. 27 incident where police were again needed to break up a disturbance.
A formal hearing on issues at Mangos Hookah Lounge, 17 Exchange St., included Councilor Mark Wildenhain making a motion to order entertainment to end at midnight in response to failures to shut down on time, but that was defeated in a 5-2 vote, with only Mercer voting with Wildenhain. A motion by Councilor Melissa DaRosa, the board instead imposed a fine of $1,000 and allow the license holders to request the elimination of police details in four weeks was also defeated, with Councilor Elena Vasquez the only one voting with DaRosa.
Upon a motion by Councilor Michael Araujo, the board voted to restrict the entertainment license at Mangos to midnight for four weeks and impose a fine of $500, removing a stipulation to require a detail officer on Thursday evenings. Wildenhain was the only no vote on that one.
There is no timeframe on the limited entertainment hours at Vibe Lounge.
City officials have repeatedly expressed frustration at the continued issues at local clubs during the pandemic, saying it’s imperative that the city get a handle on the situation.