BARRE — City councilors want to meet with the owners of two local drinking establishments before deciding whether to renew their annual entertainment licenses.
In a rare move councilors this week deferred action on a pair of pending requests – one for Mingle Nightclub and the other for The Alley Cat. Both were part of a longer list of license requests that were stripped out at the urging of Councilor Jeffrey Tuper-Giles.
Routinely approved without any discussion as part of the council’s weekly consent agenda, Tuper-Giles suggested the renewal application for Mingle and The Alley Cat, as well as the entertainment license Studio Place Arts was requesting for its annual April fundraiser be taken separately.
Tuper-Giles explained his latter suggestion was designed to allow Councilor Sue Higby, who serves as executive director of SPA, to fully participate in the discussion of the other two applications.
Councilors passed Tuper-Giles’ motion and then swiftly approved the entertainment license for SPA with Higby abstaining from both votes.
That left a couple of typically innocuous entertainment license requests that Tuper-Giles said shouldn’t be considered until after the owners of both establishments appeared before the council.
“I would like to have them both come in,” he said, prompting Councilor Michael Boutin to wonder whether the unanticipated delay would be problematic for either establishment.
City Clerk Carol Dawes said it wouldn’t. Both establishments filed their renewal requests before Dec. 31, as is required, and were free to continue operating their businesses as usual unless and until the council denied those requests.
That didn’t happen Tuesday night and it might not happen at all, but with Mingle facing potential suspension or revocation of its state liquor licenses stemming from a series of alleged violations late last year and Tuper-Giles raising vague concerns about The Alley Cat, it is possible.
At a minimum, securing entertainment licenses will require in-person appearances that weren’t required of owners of several other establishments whose requests were collectively approved without a word of discussion Tuesday night. That list included Gusto’s, Ladder 1 Grill, Quarry Kitchen & Spirits, Mulligan’s Irish Pub, Espresso Bueno, the American Legion Post #10 and the Barre Elks Lodge.
The council recently learned that Mingle is in jeopardy of losing its first- and third-class liquor licenses. The North Main Street dance club, which opened less than a year ago and is now listed for sale, has a hearing state Liquor Control Board next month.
Councilor Brandon Batham said he assumed that was why Tuper-Giles wanted to hear from Mingle owners Scott and Connor Mears before issuing the entertainment license. However, he wasn’t certain why the license for The Alley Cat was being held up.
“Can you explain the reservation?” he asked, prompting a cryptic response from Tuper-Giles.
“There’s just been a lot of incidents that seem to go on there that never are able to be captured on film unless it benefits them,” Tuper-Giles said, presumably referring to security cameras at the Keith Avenue nightclub.
“When it doesn’t, all of a sudden there’s no footage,” he added. “There’s a lot of subversiveness and I just want to know why?”
Councilors agreed to invite owners to attend a future council meeting, while reserving action on the entertainment license request. Local liquor licenses for both establishments are good through April 30 and renewal requests have not yet been received.