WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – The members of the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission hammered nails into the coffin of Gaetano DeNardo’s hopes to reopen Tommy D’s Courtyard Pub when they affirmed the decision of the city’s License Commission to revoke his license to sell liquor.
In June, 2013, the license commission met to consider three incidents in March and May which occurred in the bar and took the unusual step of revoking outright the license for the bar.
One of the incidents occurred March 13 during a birthday party for a member of a local motorcycle club, the Sons of Mothers, in which a motorcycle was brought into the bar and a club member revved the engine causing a tire to spin on the dance floor, further causing the rubber tire to burn and creating so much smoke in the bar that a fire alarm was triggered.
At the hearing, DeNardo, the licensee, testified that he had not been at the bar when the party began and, when the motorcycle was brought into the bar, the manager had left briefly to get a fresh shirt, leaving the bar under the control of a newly hired bartender.
The ABCC’s report point out that the law requires that “(n)o licensee for the sale of alcoholic beverages shall permit any disorder, disturbance or illegality of any kind to take place in or on the licensed premises. The licensee shall be responsible thereof, whether present or not.”
The report also found that, when police and firefighters responded to the alarm, DeNardo (who reportedly had returned from vacation and arrived at the bar after the alarm sounded but before emergency responders arrived) told the investigators that a smoke bomb had caused the smoke in the bar and did not tell them that a motorcycle had been removed from the bar moments earlier.
The report notes that, not only did he not mention the motorcycle at the time of the incident, “Mr. DeNardo only admitted the presence of the motorcycle in the bar after photographic evidence surfaced making the presence of the motorcycle undeniable.”
The other two incidents the local commissioners considered both involved failure of the licensee to properly train staff to deal with crowd control and the concomitant failure of the staff to properly handle disturbances at the bar.
As a result, in both incidents, bouncers at the bar separated persons fighting inside the bar and simply ejected them both, within moments of each other, from the same door before themselves returning to the bar. In both cases, the altercations were revived, and escalated, resulting in injury to participants. In neither case did bar staff report the disturbances to police nor call for an ambulance when the injuries resulted.
The ABCC found “substantial evidence that the Licensee failed to train its staff to properly recognize and respond to signs of potential outbreaks” as required by License Commission rules.
“Accordingly, the Commission concurs with the decision of the Local Board and finds the Licensee responsible for committing the violations alleged.”
The ABCC commissioners found that all three of the alleged violations were substantiated and also noted that the local commission has properly applied progressive discipline in response to previous violations and had imposed sanctions as recently as January of 2013.
The report notes that “The Licensee has a long history of violations for which it has been sanctioned” and that “the Local Board could have revoked the license for any one of these violations alone.”
The ABCC concluded that “the action of the Westfield Local Board was not arbitrary and capricious, but based on progressive discipline” when it approved the decision of the License Commission.
Media Credit: The Westfield News