Council Tackles Challenging Liquor License Applications

by | Jan 11, 2024

The idea is to renew licenses by Dec. 1 but it doesn’t always work out that way

Any establishment in town that serves food and alcohol needs to renew its license yearly by Dec. 1. The process involves making sure the town gets information including up-to-date tax records, inspections, parking spaces, and proof of insurance. The Town Council then votes on the renewal. Invariably, there are establishments that ask for more time and typically the Town Council allows it. Which is why, at the meeting Monday (1/8/24), more than six weeks past the deadline, there were several establishments on the agenda – each with its own particular issues.  

Downtown Tilly’s was able to renew its victualling (aka food) license but has had some problems securing a state tax certificate so it has not been able to serve alcohol for the past several weeks. Downtown Tilly’s owner Ty Cosgrove told the Town Council Monday he thought the issue should be cleared up within a day or two but in the meantime they were considering dropping the alcohol license altogether and becoming a BYOB establishment. 

“That might be a better fit for us,” said Cosgrove. “We don’t really do a whole lot of alcohol sales. We’re just trying to find our place on the road after our first year.” 

The Town Council granted Downtown Tilly’s a continuance to Jan. 22 by a 4-0 vote (all subsequent votes were 4-0; Councilor Mike Donegan was absent).

The Patio, which is closed for the winter, was also looking for clearance from the state Division of Taxation. Owner Jason Winpenny said they had moved to a different accountant after a previous accounting firm made some mistakes and it’s taking some time to get everything reconciled. Town Solicitor Andy Teitz recommended renewal on contingency of getting the state certification by Jan. 22 or else risk losing their alcohol and victualling license; the Town Council approved that extension.

The Town Council approved renewal of the alcohol license for Kai Bar with conditions, citing some incidents during the past year. Kai Bar must have a dedicated security detail from 9 p.m. to 30 minutes past closing every Friday and Saturday night, with the addition of Thursday nights between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Under the arrangement, Kai Bar could request modification of those conditions after July 1.

In December, the Town Council approved transfer of the now-closed Revival’s liquor license to a new restaurant-bar going into the space at 219 Main Street, Sports & Leisure, pending completion of their application. On Monday, lawyer Nick Hemond asked for an extension, citing ongoing construction. 

But, between December and now, Council President Mark Schwager said, “the council has become aware of some adverse events that occurred at the [three] other establishments” in Providence owned by the restaurant group – Sports & Leisure, Brass Monkey, and Black Sheep. The events included fighting, one report of a knife injury, and a report of an incidence of multiple overdoses. 

Hemond acknowledged there were two instances of “show-cause” hearings (hearings where the owners would have to show why they shouldn’t lose their license) but in both cases, the charges were dismissed. 

“All their licenses are held in good standing,” Hemond said. “The thought process here for the East Greenwich location is that we’d be dealing with a different clientele. If the council is interested to see a security plan … we can certainly accommodate that. It’s not our thought that this would be needed.”

Councilor Renu Englehart said she did not think the establishment should be allowed to stay open until 1 a.m. nightly, seeking to limit it to Friday and Saturday nights only. While Hemond said it would take two to three months for construction to be complete, the council approved a continuance to Jan. 22 to be able to address the concerns raised during this session. He said he and one of the owners would be in attendance.

The final license application under review was for Low Key Cafe, which is facing a show-cause hearing Jan. 29 for some license infractions. Because of that, the council voted to extend Low Key’s license to that time. 

All establishments that came before the Town Council Monday except Kai Bar will be returning in coming weeks.

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January 12, 2024 9:48 am

Why must our community suffer the likes of Kai Bar, Low Key, and now what sounds like an even worse problem waiting to happen in Sports&Leisure?!

Let the big city to our north provide home to such hovels.

Between comprehensive permits and authorization of violence via these dives, East Greenwich is going downhill quick.

Matt Renninger
Matt Renninger
January 18, 2024 10:11 am

Looking forward to sports & leisure, downtown is sorely in need of a true, normal bar with a good setup for watching sports.


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