The Randolph Town Council will be looking for a plan at a hearing Monday to address ongoing problems with fights at a local bar, before considering its owner’s request for a change of manager on his liquor license.
The Randolph Country Club property, on Mazzeo Drive, is owned by Boston businessman Jack Gateman. His 9,000-square-foot building houses two bars, which operate under a single liquor license and the same manager.
That arrangement is unusual but not unheard of in Randolph; Vincent’s and Lombardo’s, also housed in a single building, share a license. Those establishments have operated smoothly for the last several years.
One of Gateman’s bars, the Randolph Country Club, has historically been popular with the area’s alternative crowd and has experienced few problems.
But The Clubhouse, a newer bar in the same building, has been the scene of numerous outdoor brawls.
Gateman wants to change the manager on his liquor license from a previous employee to J. Eddy Bazile.
But Police Chief William Pace says Bazile has already been in charge for more than two years, and The Clubhouse has been a problem under his management.
“My office has had many conversations with Mr. Bazile and Mr. Jack Gateman regarding incidents almost exclusively at The Clubhouse,” Pace wrote in a letter to the council. “There have been several violent incidents as a result of the use of outside promoters, and several incidents in which [police] mutual aid was called.”
Councilor James Burgess said he thought Gateman had sworn off the use of promoters a long time ago, following earlier criticism from the Town Council.
“We had spoken to Mr. Gateman about outside promoters when The Clubhouse was called Loft 44,” Burgess said. “They took the sign down and said they wouldn’t use promoters any more, and here we are again.”
Burgess said trouble at The Clubhouse, when rowdy outside crowds are brought in, usually spills into the parking lot.
“We’ve had shootings, we’ve had knives, we’d had tires slashed, and we’ve had noise,” he said. “I think the Town Council is taking a position saying we’re not going to tolerate trouble. It’s embarrassing when you have police departments from multiple towns responding to calls.”
Randolph has seen its share of violence at its bars in recent years, often attributed to when promoters trying to pack the establishments have brought in crowds from out of town.
Local leaders have historically clamped down on troublesome operations, rolling back hours and suspending licenses. In the last three years, disciplinary actions resulted in the closure of two hotspots, The Vault Room and Genesio’s.
Burgess was a selectman when the two bars were keeping police busy, before local government was switched to a town council.
The Vault Room was closed by the owner in 2009, after officials rolled back its closing time to 11 p.m. following a shooting. The owner has since opened a dinner theater there.
Genesio’s Restaurant and Bar closed following a license suspension and rollback of hours prompted by a triple stabbing in 2010.
Problems at The Vault Room and Genesio’s were also related to promoters attracting outsiders, according to Burgess.
“Promoters advertise all over the place,” he said. “They make their money at the door, and the bar gets the liquor sales. We see arrests from all over, from New Bedford to Boston.”
Burgess said he fears the same situation is unfolding at Gateman’s club.
“I don’t think the Country Club has risen to that point yet, but it’s heading in the same direction,” Burgess said. “What we’ll want to see is how they plan to fix the problems. If we don’t get that, I could see this going the way of The Vault.”
Councilor Ken Clifton was particularly critical of The Clubhouse during last month’s opening hearing on the liquor license.
“I just want peace for my community,” Clifton said last week. “I’ve gotten calls from residents, and I voiced their concerns at the council meeting.”
Gateman could not be reached for comment.
Bazile deferred to Gateman’s attorney, Mark Evlogiadis, who declined comment, saying he hadn’t yet received relevant police reports and a videotape of last month’s liquor license discussion.
Evlogiadis said he’s confident the issues can be resolved.
“Mr. Gateman is a very responsible business manager, and he’s always willing to work with licensing boards,” Evlogiadis said. “I think at the end of the day, we’ll come to an agreement that will make everyone happy.”
Pace has asked the Town Council to make any license adjustment “contingent on safe operation of the venue,” allowing for future disciplinary action if matters don’t improve.
Monday’s hearing is set for 8:30 p.m. at Town Hall.