Tremblay’s owner buying Portsmouth pub next door

Mike MacFarlane vows to make establishment better and ‘quieter’

By Jim McGaw
Posted 10/16/19

PORTSMOUTH — The restaurant and bar next door to his Tremblay's Island Park Bar & Grill hasn’t had much luck in recent years, but Mike MacFarlane believes he’s the guy who …

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Tremblay’s owner buying Portsmouth pub next door

Mike MacFarlane vows to make establishment better and ‘quieter’

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — The restaurant and bar next door to his Tremblay's Island Park Bar & Grill hasn’t had much luck in recent years, but Mike MacFarlane believes he’s the guy who can turn it around.

More importantly, he told the Town Council Tuesday night, he wants his new business — he’s “signing the papers next week” — to be a good neighbor.

“We’re going to take it to another level — clean it up and make it better,” said Mr. MacFarlane. 

Karl Nelson opened his Karl’s Park Avenue Pub, located at 506 Park Ave., in May 2018. The business lasted just over a year, however, closing in early July.  

Previous owners also had a tough go of it. Before Mr. Nelson took it over, the business was known as The Beach House, and The Beachcomber before that. Both bars drew mainly younger crowds that featured live bands.

They also drew the attention of police on occasion due to complaints over loud music or drunk patrons causing a disturbance to neighbors who lived within a stone’s throw away in the mainly residential neighborhood.

Mr. MacFarlane, however, said he’s sensitive to abutters’ concerns because he lives in Island Park himself.

“This is not a late-night, AC/DC cover band thing,” he said. “It’s not in the plans to wake up the neighborhood. I am the neighborhood.”

Mr. MacFarlane appeared before the council, sitting as the Board of License Commissioners, to request a transfer of a Class B alcoholic beverage license from Karl’s Pub to his business. He and Dennis DiMarino were listed as owners on the application. 

He was also seeking approval for the permanent expansion of the former Karl’s Pub’s service area to allow food and alcohol to be served in a fenced, 1,204-square-foot outdoor patio area behind the building.

While acknowledging they approved of what Mr. MacFalane has done with Tremblay’s since taking it over more than two years ago, several neighbors still expressed concerns over possible issues with noise and drinking at the new establishment.

Lisa Gurney, of 494 Park Ave., said her properly line is just 60 feet from the building, and she’s seen five different businesses come and go since she moved in. The drinking and late-night noise have always been a problem, she said.

“It’s a very loud street to live on,” said Ms. Gurney.

Another abutter said he wasn’t opposed to the license transfer, but that the business’ hours of operation should be limited, with no loud, electrified music allowed.

Although he has no definitive business plan yet, Mr. MacFarlane said he intends to purge any negative stigma from the building next door to Tremblay’s.

“My plan is to echo what everybody in this room said — make it better, make it quieter, not make it a late-night establishment,” he said.

‘Know his pedigree’

John Vitkevich, a member of the Island Park Preservation Society, said he supported Mr. McFarlane’s application, adding the former businesses at that location were not run professionally.

“If he doesn’t get it, somebody else is going to come in here. We know his pedigree,” Mr. Vitkevich said.

The council voted unanimously to approve the liquor license transfer as well as the expanded outside service hours until 10 p.m. for a one-year trial period. If there are any complaints from neighbors, the board will revisit the application. 

The approval was contingent upon any indebtedness incurred by Karl’s Pub be paid in full to creditors beforehand.

Any amplified music outdoors will not be allowed unless Mr. MacFarlane receives special permission from the town, council member Keith Hamilton said.

Another council member, Andrew Kelly, said he dines at Tremblay’s all the time and was curious about what will appear on the new restaurant’s menu.

“I can’t answer everything,” Mr. MacFarlane replied with a laugh.

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Meet our staff
Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.