SOUTHWEST HARBOR— All but one member of the Board of Selectmen signed a letter on Tuesday for the state’s Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations with reasons explaining why a liquor license renewal for Joey’s Place Sports Lounge was recently denied.
George Jellison stated he had found out more information since the board’s Jan. 12 meeting and couldn’t in good conscience put his signature on the letter. When asked if he wanted to revisit the subject or reconsider the board’s vote, Jellison said no.
“This liquor license, every year that I’ve been on the board, it’s been a repeat of issues,” said Selectman Chad Terry during the Jan. 12 meeting. “You can only be a habitual offender so many times.”
A report filed with the application for renewal cited three incidents that required police response in the last year at the establishment. One took place on July 23 where establishment owner Joey Feliciano Sr. had a fight with a patron who was hospitalized as a result, according to police. Another took place on Aug. 1 regarding a patron who left the establishment so intoxicated he passed out in the roadway with an injured hand. A third incident cited during the meeting was a noise complaint regarding the establishment that took place in mid-June.
“I have never in my short history on this group ever denied a liquor license,” Board Chairman Kristin Hutchins said after the three incidents were read aloud. “But, I won’t vote for it.”
According to the Joey’s Place Facebook page, the restaurant and bar celebrated eight years in operation during the summer of 2020. In addition to the difficulties of running a business during a pandemic, the Facebook page also cited staffing problems through the season. A for-sale sign is currently posted outside the building on Main Street.
Terry reminded members of the board that during the license renewal process in 2020, Feliciano told the board he was taking over management of the sports lounge and intending to make positive changes. Lydia Goetze, former board chairman, had told Feliciano he needed to make changes or the license would not be approved the next time around, Terry said.
“We’ve done a lot of these over the years and I’ve never had one refused,” said Jellison at the meeting. “Because I thought that if we didn’t, he could go to the state and they would issue it.”
“If you were going to deny municipal approval you would state the reasons for denial and that would be given in writing to them and the state,” said Town Manager Justin VanDongen. “The state would have to make a determination after that.”
A motion to approve the liquor license failed with a vote 1-4, with Jellison in favor and the rest of the board against. Another motion was made to deny the license with the incidents on the police report stated as reasons for the denial. That motion passed unanimously.
“The lengthy discussion we had about the renewal last year tells me operations are headed in the wrong direction,” said Hutchins, “and I’m concerned about their neighborliness.”