The liquor license for Clam Jammers will be suspended for a week in April, the harshest of eight conditions imposed on the bar by the Narragansett Town Council on Monday night.
Meeting as the Alcoholic Beverage Licensing Commission, the council heard testimony primarily from solicitor Mark McSally and Narragansett Police Chief Dean Hoxsie about the agreement reached between the town and the owners of Clam Jammers.
The conditions of the agreement:
- The liquor license for the bar will be suspended from April 2 to April 8.
- Clam Jammers will be allowed to continue having under-21 dance nights, subject to a review in June. (Note: This was modified by the council from a review in October.)
- A fire detail will be present on busier nights – Fridays, Saturdays and some Wednesdays.
- A colored wristband program, to help enforce proper beverage serving, will be in effect.
- Single service will be enforced at the bar for any under-21 night. (i.e. A patron can only order one drink at a time, and can’t order for anyone else.)
- No bottle service – only cups or cans.
- Garbage pick-up at closing time.
- The establishment must also hire sufficient staff for the door, decks and docks in the area.
McSally noted that the owners of Clam Jammers – Paul Troxell and Brent Santos – had met with town officials in the previous month to work out the conditions of the agreement. Troxell was present at Monday’s hearing and raised no objections.
“I fully expect that we’re going to be under the microscope forever,” he said. “Whatever timetable you’d like, we’ll agree to.”
McSally and Hoxsie said they tried to balance the need for order with the commerce aspects.
“I don’t want to see any business in town shutdown,” Hoxsie said, adding that he realized the under-21 nights were a way for the bar to survive in the leaner winter months.
“It is a way for him to get people in the door. The larger crowd then attracts the over-21 crowd.”
Earlier in the meeting, McSally said, “Like you see from many other establishments in town, the winter months are difficult, and food service isn’t really a way to survive … You have to attract other crowds, which is the URI population. The summer months are more focused toward the food.”
Councilor Susan Cicilline-Buonanno had the harshest words during the hearing.
“I read this packet, and I was absolutely appalled,” she said, referring to the incidents happening at the bar and the nearby areas.
In the past six months, police have made more than a dozen arrests either at the bar or in the nearby area.
Cicilline-Buonanno asked whether it would be more appropriate to institute a 10-day punishment, as opposed to seven.
However, McSally and Hoxsie said that in their review of past agreements and show cause hearings, the typical punishment was two or three days.
“The most we’ve ever done in the past has been a two or a three day-er,” McSally said, noting that the closest comparison was Pompeii. “You’re making the decision, I just gave you the yardstick of what we’ve done before.”
According to a November 2009 article in The South County Independent, Pompeii was accused of multiple alcohol violations and also marketed itself improperly as a nightclub.
McSally said the problems at Clam Jammers did not compare to those at Pompeii, which would have had its license pulled for 10 days, except it was going out of business anyway.
“I think we had a lot more issues at Pompeii, and a lot more visibility,” McSally said. “We had drink specials that shouldn’t have been going on, like ‘pay $10 and drink all night long.’”
Pompeii was located at the former site of Okie’s. Similarly, Clam Jammers is in Galilee at the site of another former restaurant, the Wheel House. The council approved a liquor license transfer from the Wheel House to Clam Jammers in April 2011. (Click here for our article.)
According to McSally, Hoxsie and Narragansett Fire Captain James Given, Clam Jammers had been complying with the agreement conditions for the past two weeks without issue.
McSally said that like Cicilline-Buonanno, he initially wanted a longer liquor license punishment and more conditions, but his fears were allayed by reports from Hoxsie and Deputy Police Chief Gerald Driscoll.
“My viewpoint changed a bit when I heard the report from the deputy chief,” he said. “I kind of softened a little bit.”
Councilor David Crook added, “I think if they feel comfortable with what they’re recommending, I do too.”
McSally also said that in conversations with the owners, they planned on scaling back the under-21 bar nights as the season turned from spring to summer, since the restaurant business picked up.
After adjusting the review period from October 2012 to June 2012, the council approved the amended agreement by a 5-0 vote.