WOONSOCKET – The Woonsocket City Council on Monday voted to fine Rick’s Bar & Grill and mandate stricter security measures after reports of several fights breaking out in the parking lot of the Cass Avenue bar.
Richard Dias, the bar’s owner, appeared before the City Council for a three-hour hearing on Monday. During the hearing, members of the Woonsocket Police Department shared security footage from a neighboring salon that shows individuals wielding knives and throwing punches in the bar’s back parking lot.
In one incident, according to a police report, several people assaulted each other in the parking lot with knives, cars and objects in a fight that later continued on Sweet Avenue. In another, three or four men were seen assaulting and kicking another man on the ground. All of the assailants, according to the report, were wearing an insignia associated with motorcycle gangs.
Police said they were aware of at least three incidents that occurred between April and September of this year.
Dias, the owner of the bar for the past 12 years, argued he was not aware of the fights when they were happening. Though the bar has security footage, he said, the cameras do not capture the entire parking lot and are not always monitored live.
“Do you want me to be outside 24 hours a day watching?” he asked.
Dias also said a fight in April was not brought to his attention until recently despite a neighbor reporting it to police.
The bar owner was ordered to install security cameras after a series of 2015 incidents that also led to a hearing before the City Council. In one of those incidents, according to City Solicitor John DeSimone, an individual was injured so badly in a fight that they needed to be hospitalized. At the time, the council temporarily revoked the bar’s entertainment license and suspended its liquor license over Fourth of July weekend.
Following the latest incidents, DeSimone recommended the council fine the business $1,000, shut it down for a week and suspend its entertainment license until Dec. 31. He argued that by not installing security cameras that showed the entire property, Dias failed to comply with the 2015 order.
“He’s already had this in 2015, he didn’t learn from it, and most likely unless something drastic is done, he won’t learn from it in the future,” he said.
Members of the City Council opted for a lesser penalty but agreed that something needed to be done. They fined the bar $500 and ordered Dias to install security cameras that fully cover the outside of the property and allow the Woonsocket Police Department to have access to them in real time. They also ordered him to report all incidents as they occur to police.
Dias’s lawyer said the bar owner has asked members of the biker groups not to frequent his bar anymore.