PORTSMOUTH — Two local businesses have been put “on notice” by the town after reportedly violating the terms of their liquor licenses during separate incidents recently.
The Town Council, sitting as the Board of License Commissioners, leveled no sanctions against the businesses after Police Chief Thomas F. Lee requested a review of the incidents Monday night. However, the chief’s report has been placed on file for review when the establishments’ liquor licenses come up for renewal.
In the first incident, police were conducting a routine business check at VFW Post 5390, 822 Anthony Road, shortly before 2 a.m. on March 22 when an officer saw a man exit the building carrying a 12-pack of beer, Chief Lee wrote in an April 4 letter to the board. Under the law, he said, the establishment is required to be vacated by employees by 1:30 a.m.
“Upon seeing the officer, the male abandoned the 12-pack of beer by placing it on the ground and then continued to walk towards a vehicle,” the chief stated, adding that the man was identified as Scott Jamison, a bartender at the VFW who was leaving work.
Mr. Jamison told the officer that he was aware the establishment was supposed to have been vacated by 1:30 a.m., stated Chief Lee. According to VFW Post 5390 President Harry Church, Mr. Jamison later blamed the occurrence on a lack of good judgment, the chief said.
Later on that same night, at 2:18 a.m., an officer saw six vehicles parked in the area of Tremblay’s Island Park Cafe, 514 Park Ave., Chief Lee stated in separate letter to the board. The bar appeared to be closed and unoccupied, but noise was heard coming from within the establishment, Chief Lee wrote.
At about 2:30 a.m. Gina Feldman, the bartender that night, was seen leaving the bar, police said. She told the officer that she stayed to clean up and was unable to finish the job by 1:30 a.m., Chief Lee stated.
Owner requests clarification
Manuel Benevides, owner of Tremblay’s, took full responsibility for the violation.
“We know we were in violation of the law. There’s no excuse for that,” he said.
However, Mr. Benevides said he believed the law states that last call is at 12:45 a.m. and all customers must be out of the building by 1:20 a.m. That leaves a bartender little time to check all the doors and leave the bar by 1:30 a.m., he said.
“We’ve always acted that it’s a half hour after the last patron, which brings it to 1:50,” he said, acknowledging that under those rules, the March 22 incident was still a violation. He asked for a clarification of the law.
“We want to do it right. I don’t want to be up here again in front of this guy,” he said, motioning to Chief Lee, which drew laughs from the audience.
Town Administrator John Klim suggested that Mr. Benevides sit down with Chief Lee to iron things out, to which he agreed.