PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Licensing Board has put A-Mart on notice after the store allegedly sold alcohol to a heavily intoxicated individual.
Police say on May 25, officers responded to the area for a report of a heavily intoxicated man stumbling in the street. Officers conducted a field sobriety test and the man blew a .32 — four times the legal limit — on a breathalyzer. The man had apparently just purchased alcohol at A-Mart moments before, which Capt. Michael Grady said managers at the store confirmed to the responding officer.
Selling alcohol to an already intoxicated individual is against the law and, while the man was walking and not driving, the Licensing Board felt it posed a hazard. Licensing Board member Richard Stockwell said the severely intoxicated man could have easily been struck by a vehicle on that end of North Street.
"It is a very very serious situation," Stockwell said.
Licensing Board Chairman Thomas Campoli said it could have easily been somebody who was driving and could have gotten into an accident.
A-Mart owner Bhumi Karia said she is certainly taking the incident seriously. She said she was unable to obtain the video from the incident to determine which employee was responsible because she hadn't been notified of it immediately — she said she received notice on June 14. She said she asked the staff about it but nobody seems to remember the incident so she can't do anything for discipline for the employee.
Karia said she is now putting all of her staffing through TIPS training and she is switching her own schedule to be present at the store later in the evenings.
"We are taking it very seriously," Karia said, giving her word that it won't happen again.
The Licensing Board agreed to issue a three-day suspension of the store's liquor license, but that is suspended for six months. The business will still be able to operate as normal but should there be another incident within that timeframe, the suspension will automatically be invoked.
Stockwell noted that there hasn't been an incident at A-Mart in five years, but most of that time was before Karia owned it.
A-Mart was just one of three local establishments in hot water with the Licensing Board. The Hangar and Methuselah both have hearings pending regarding some type of incidents at those establishments — though details of the incidents have yet to be released. Both were scheduled for hearings on Monday but notifications arrived late at both establishments and the board agreed to push the hearings off until August.
In other business, Grady reported that he's been in touch with the owners of the Sportsman's Cafe on Peck's Road. The bar had previously cut back its hours and is now looking to stay open late again. But neighbors are fighting the extended hours saying that in the past there had been numerous issues with the bar being open until 2 a.m.
Owner Neal Marshall is passing the business onto his son and Grady reported that a number of changes are being made there to curb incidents. Grady said exterior lighting was installed, signage was added reminding patrons where to park, interior and exterior cameras were installed, and ownership is taking a more active roll in the management of the bar.
The Licensing Board also approved a special downtown beer and wine license for Lindsey and Lucas Marion. The couple is opening Uncorked, a wine bar in the previous location of Regions Bar & Nosh in the Crawford Square building on North Street.
Lindsey Marion outlined the plans to offer a menu of wines and craft beers, small snacks, mild entertainment such as card and board games, and some private events such as baby showers and paint and sips.
Regions turned its special downtown license into the city and the requirements for a new special downtown permit include making attempts to purchase an available license. Lindsey said she reached out to Friends, which was unwilling to sell just the license without selling the entire business, and she said the owner of the Homeplate was unreachable.
She added that both of those licenses are all alcohol, which Uncorked isn't looking for — it just wants a beer and wine license.
Nonetheless, the effort was enough for the Licensing Board to approve the new downtown license.
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