EAST PROVIDENCE — The cycle of rebukes and challenges continued Wednesday night, April 9, during an emergency show-cause public hearing as the East Providence City Council once again voted to shutter the controversial East Bay Tavern establishment located on Lyon Avenue.
The Council, acting as the city’s licensing commissioners, unanimously agreed to revoke the Tavern’s license to serve alcohol for a period of 30 days and to fine the business $500. The Tavern’s operator, Stephen Tague, and its representing attorney, William C. Maaia, indicated they would once again seek to have the Council’s ruling reversed with the State Department of Business Regulation.
Mr. Maaia previously sought and received a stay from the DBR following a similar decision made by the Council back in early March. At that time, the Council, which discussed the topic at great length at two previous hearings, also voted 5-0 to revoke the Tavern’s liquor license.
The Council, with the input of the East Providence Police Department, deemed it necessary to close the Tavern following an alleged stabbing incident in mid February of this year.
Wednesday’s ruling was spurred by recent print and radio advertisements placed by the Tavern in the March 27 edition of The East Providence Post newspaper and on the WWKX 106.3 FM station known familiarly as “Hot 106.”
The print ad included a “Buy 1, Get 1” from the “bar menu” from 9:30 to 11 p.m., leaving open the possibility of food being purchase. Advertising representatives at East Bay Newspapers, the parent company of The Post and eastbayri.com, said earlier Wednesday they were under the impression the line in the ad was in fact intended for purchasing food.
The radio ad, which was played for the Council, was much more specific, offering a buy one-get one drink special. City Solicitor Tim Chapman claimed an offering of that kind is in conflict with state law.
Mr. Tague and Mr. Maaia argued about vagaries in the law and that the former wasn’t properly guided by either media outlet about the lawfulness of the advertisements. Those explanations, however, were summarily dismissed by the Council, whose members noted Mr. Tague has been operating the East Bay Tavern for some two decades and should know better than media representatives about the legality of his actions.
The original ruling by the Council is still being adjudicated by the Department of Business Regulation. A final judgement was expected to be rendered some time soon. With Wednesday’s decision and the Tavern’s intention to appeal, the process will likely continue even longer.