Broadway Bar gets Two-day Liquor License Suspension

Bar La Cueva at 802 Broadway was handed a two-day suspension and a rollback of its operating hours by the Chelsea Licensing Commission at its meeting last week.

The penalty was imposed for violations of the bar’s liquor and entertainment licenses stemming from an incident that occurred on April 4.

Commission Chair Marnie MacAlpine noted that the bar has been before the commission for violations in the past, and that history played a role in the suspension and hours rollback.

According to Chelsea Police, an officer was driving by Bar La Cueva when he noticed there was loud noise that could be heard outside the bar. When he went into the bar, there was loud music and dancing.

Under the bar’s entertainment license, dancing is not allowed, and music from the bar should not be heard outside the establishment.

When the police received the requested video surveillance from the night in question at the bar, Officer Joseph Santiago saw at least three incidents of a female bartender taking shots and dancing with patrons.

Under the liquor license regulations, employees are not allowed to drink while on duty.

Attorney Jeff Turco, representing Bar La Cueva owner Miguel Aguilar, noted that Aguilar fired the bartender the night of the incident prior to turning the video over to police.

However, MacAlpine noted that while that was the first time there was video evidence of an employee drinking while working, she was troubled that the bartender did it while Aguilar was nearby in the bar. She also said that the bartender was likely fired because the owners knew the incident would show up on the surveillance tape.

“Personally, I’m concerned that this is an establishment that is not following the rules, and these are pretty basic rules,” said MacAlpine. “My biggest concern is that an employee is clearly drinking behind the bar while management is there and not trying to hide it at all.”

School Committee member Sarah Neville, who lives near Bar La Cueva, said that there have been concerns with noise and conduct at the bar since she has lived there. She also added that there were a number of neighbors who have voiced her concerns to her, but were not as comfortable speaking in public about them at city hall.

Turco noted that Aguilar has owned the bar for 18 years with a minimum number of violations and incidents.

“As a resident of the city for 11 years, I have heard a lot of negative things about that bar,” said MacAlpine. “ I won’t go to that bar because of all the negative things I’ve heard. This isn’t the only bar that this is a comment about, but this is one of the bars in our community that I have been warned is not a place to go.”

The commission voted to hand down a two-day suspension on Thursday, June 27 and Friday, June 28. In addition, after voting to extend operating hours for Bar La Cueva two months ago, the commission voted to roll back operating hours to what they were before, with a closing time of 11 p.m. on Sundays through Wednesdays, and midnight on Thursdays through Saturdays.

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