EAST PROVIDENCE — Embattled East Bay Tavern is set to reopen the doors of its Lyon Avenue location after the State Department of Business Regulation granted a conditional stay to a decision made by the East Providence City Council revoking the bar’s license to serve alcohol, the Council learned at its meeting on Tuesday night, March 18.
City attorney William C. Maaia, representing the owner of the Tavern, appealed the March 4 ruling by the Council, which serves as the liquor board for East Providence, to the DBR eight days later. Louis A. DeQuattro, Esq., the Deputy Director for Division of Regulatory Standards, Compliance and Enforcement and the Hearing Officer for the appeal, rendered his decision on Friday, March 14. Assistant Solicitor Robert Craven represented the city.
Mr. DeQuattro noted the Tavern’s inability to operate during the appeal could cause “irreparable” financial harm to the owner as one of the factors in his decision. Another was the period of time between when the Council acted and the alleged stabbing incident that occurred at the Tavern in February, which precipitated the former’s decision to revoke the license.
Mr. DeQuattro wrote, “while the alleged incidences occurred on February 6, 2014, the City did not render its decision until March 5, 2014. This delay, coupled with the fact that the City did not invoke its emergency powers, can be reasonably construed as evidencing that immediate closure is not necessary to protect the public interest. Furthermore, it seems that the ten days that have elapsed since the written revocation decision was issued would have served as a ‘cool down’ period to mitigate any risk of a retaliation event.”
In his recommendation Mr. DeQuattro concluded, “Based on the forgoing, the undersigned recommends granting a stay on the Class B liquor license of the Appellant (East Bay Tavern) so that the Appellant can remain open pending final decision in this matter on the following condition: The Appellant shall be prohibited from providing live entertainment on the premises during the stay unless the Appellant complies with written instructions from the Chief of Police for appropriate security personnel, detail officers, and/or police surveillance.”
What this means for the Tavern is that it can serve alcohol and present entertainment despite the Council’s strong, 5-0 rebuke two weeks ago following a lengthy three-hour public hearing.
The Tavern must, however, reach a formal agreement with East Providence Police Chief Joseph Tavares regarding the parameters surrounding the entertainment it offers, specifically what types of increased security measures it plans to put in place following the alleged stabbing incident that was at the heart of the Council’s vote to close the business down.
The conditional stay means the Tavern can remain open, free of any additional incidents with police, through the appellate process. Mr. Maaia told the Council he expects to have all the necessary paperwork ready to submit so the DBR can render its final decision on the matter in a timely fashion. The bar has been closed since the Council made its ruling two weeks ago.
Mr. Maaia said Tuesday his client has plans to reopen sometime this week and would like to offer entertainment. He said the Tavern owner is willing to meet with Chief Tavares and adhere to any arrangement.
City Solicitor Tim Chapman told the Council he would expect the final hearing on the appeal to take place in the “next week or two” once the DBR has all the pertinent evidence.