Sandwich Selectmen Yank Liquor License From Booster's Bar & Grill
By: Michael J. Rausch
By a unanimous 5-0 vote, the Board of Selectmen voted last night to revoke the liquor license of Boosters Bar & Grill.
It was the fourth time Booster’s owner Stefanie Celata had to go before the selectmen for a disciplinary hearing on charges that she violated her liquor license. Selectmen said it was a difficult decision, but after four violations, they had to act in the best interest of the community.
The violation under discussion last night occurred on January 14. State police records show that a woman, driving the wrong way on Route 6, crashed in Dennis. 26-year-old Jodie L. Zanello of Burbank Street, was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.
When Ms. Zanello was interviewed days later by Sandwich police, she said that she had been at Booster's on Route 130 where she had three glasses of wine. She said the bartender ignored her drunken state and put another drink in front of her.
The incident was the third offense for the business since December 2011 and the fourth since 2009. On December 3, 2011, Sandwich police had to stop a man who was so drunk he could not stand upright from driving his truck home from Booster's. The next night, another man who had been drinking at Booster's crashed his car into a tree on Greenville Drive. Sandwich police records show the man was drunk.
For both those incidents, the board suspended the restaurant's liquor license for five days.
At last night's hearing, under questioning by the town's counsel, Brian J. Riley, Ms. Zanello said she arrived at Booster's on January 14 around 6 PM and left sometime between 7 PM and 7:30 PM. She told the board she did not drink any alcohol before she arrived, but did admit to taking two prescription medicines, Lexipro and Abilify, that morning. She told the board that after she ordered two glasses of wine, she was going to stop drinking, but a friend came in and ordered another round for the bar. She said she drank the third glass and when she looked down at the bar, "there was a fourth glass in front of me."
Booster's attorney, Robert Mills pressed Ms. Zanello on exact some of the details of her story. He said she was inconsistent when retelling exactly when she arrived at the bar, and how long she stayed. He also asked her why she told state police after the accident that she "only had two drinks" but later told Sandwich police that she had "three, maybe four." Calling into question Ms. Zanello's credibility, Mr. Mills also suggested that she had taken "illicit drugs."
Ms. Zanello denied the accusation just as board member Linell Grundman stopped Mr. Mills, saying she and her fellow board members were "uncomfortable" with his line of questioning.
Bartender Rebecca Holt testified on behalf of Booster's. Company records show that Ms. Holt was working January 14. She told the board she is trained in how to tell if someone has had too much to drink, and she would never serve a drink to someone visibly drunk.
Board chairman Frank Pannorfi asked Ms. Holt is she would serve an inebriated customer because another person ordered a round for the bar. She replied no.
Ms. Holt also told the board she did not remember seeing Ms. Zanello at the bar, calling into question whether Ms. Zanello was even at Booster's that day. However, photos from a surveillance camera at a neighboring gas station show a car, the same model as Ms. Zanello's leaving Booster's parking lot shortly after 7 PM that night. State police records show the accident occurred around 7:20 PM.
"Why would she say Booster's?" board vice-chairman John G. Kennan, Jr. asked. He suggested she could have said any place when questioned by state police at the scene, but "she said she had been at Booster's."
Ms. Holt said she did not mean to insinuate Ms. Zanello was lying. She said she just did not remember seeing her.
Board members were also curious about a receipt presented into evidence by the defense that showed all the transactions made by Ms. Holt during her shift that day.
The receipt showed only two glasses of wine served between 11 AM and 6 PM, but board members pointed out that Ms. Zanello admitted to being at Booster's past the end of Ms. Holt's shift. They also wondered why the bartender who went on duty after Ms. Holt was not there to be questioned, and why Booster's had not given Sandwich police all the records they requested, including the transactions receipt for the nighttime bartender.
Ms. Celata told the board she gave a stack of documents to Sandwich Police Sergeant Joseph M. Cotter and told him to "contact me if he needed anything else." She said he never called her for additional records.
Board members said they found Ms. Zanello's testimony credible, but their real concern was this being a fourth violation.
"Progressively, these things are getting worse, and we can't continue to expose the public to that kind of behavior," member James W. Piece said.
The board could not legally consider last Saturday's alleged liquor license violation at Booster's in their discussions since it occurred after this hearing had been scheduled.