After viewing multiple surveillance videos of patrons falling off stools, being overserved, urinating in public, getting groped, and laid out on the sidewalk by the front door after closing time, the Licensing Commission last week suspended the Chelsea Walk Pub’s liquor license for 10 weeks.
The attorney for the Pub argued that the Broadway bar has avoided violations in the past. But for Commission members, the multiple incidents brought before it at its April 3 meeting were serious enough to warrant the harsh judgment.
The Licensing Commission found the Chelsea Walk Pub violated City ordinances by overserving patrons, selling liquor to an intoxicated person, creating a noise or disorderly disturbance, and failing to provide video surveillance. The majority of the violations resulted from incidents responded to by the Police Department late last November.
In a letter to the Licensing Commission, City Manager Thomas Ambrosino urged the commission not to take the reported violations lightly.
“A liquor license is a privilege and not a right,” the City Manager stated.
The majority of the April 3 hearing revolved around the showing of video surveillance footage from a number of the incidents.
Police highlighted one patron at the end of the bar who had three drinks in front of him before stashing an unopened beer in his jacket while the bartender wasn’t looking.
Meanwhile, police pointed out that at the other end of the bar, a woman sat with two pitchers of beer in front of her with no one else drinking from the mugs. In addition, the video showed the woman encouraging another patron to put his hand down her shirt and grope her breast.
Police Captain Keith Houghton said both incidents violated the city alcohol serving ordinances.
Attorney Jeffrey Rosario Turco, representing the Pub, put up a defense to the evidence, noting several times that the patrons who were alleged to have been overserved seemed steady on their feet and not intoxicated.
“With all due respect, that woman allowed a man to go down her shirt with two pitchers of beer in front of her,” said City Solicitor Cheryl Watson Fisher. “There are implications all over the place.”
Additional video and evidence showed a patron leaving the bar and urinating outside on the sidewalk and a patron weaving into the street before being spotted by a police officer.
Licensing Commission member Roseann Bongiovanni was unmoved by Turco’s “not swaying” defense when it came to video of one patron who left the bar then went back in after being allegedly overserved.
“He’s leaning up against the way, that’s why he’s not swaying,” said Bongiovanni. “That’s some good evidence you have there.”
Most damning was an incident that showed several patrons and a bartender struggling for nearly 10 minutes to carry an alleged intoxicated patron out the door after closing time. Once the man was laid on the sidewalk, the bartender went back inside and locked the front door of the bar.
“The bartender quickly closed the door and leaves him out flat, leaving him pretty much to us,” said Houghton.
Turco did not dispute the evidence in that incident, but said that the bartender in the video had been fired.
Chelsea Walk Pub owner Angela Palmieri said the main problem has been that her staff has not stepped up.
“They don’t listen to what I tell them to do,” she said.
While the Pub hasn’t come before the Licensing Commission in recent memory for violation, Bongiovanni said it has largely been because there weren’t City resources to police the establishment before. She said the Chelsea Walk Pub has a long history of shenanigans.
“There have been so many instances at the Chelsea Walk Pub,” she said. “These are just the ones you got caught for; it is a disgrace to the city.”
In addition to the 10-week liquor license suspension, the Licensing Commission also voted to reduce the bar’s operating hours from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. to noon to 10 p.m.