Editor’s Note: We incorrectly stated the Dept. of Health had cited them for the improper storage. DOH had not issued a violation for that issue. We regret the error.
The Town Council, acting as the town’s Board of License Commissioners, held a show-cause hearing Thursday night to determine what to do, if anything, about The Patio’s liquor license after the town’s building inspector cited it for capacity and storing alcohol in an area beyond the authorized premises. The restaurant is on Main Street at Union Street.
According to Town Solicitor Peter Skwirz, the inspector found alcohol bottles on the second floor of the building that houses The Patio, which was not allowed since it was not listed as part of the restaurant in their application (the upstairs has been a separate apartment before).
Sean O’Leary, lawyer for The Patio, said the owners – Jason and Angel Winpenny – were willing to admit the storage violation. When questioned, he said the Winpennys were now seeking to add that upstairs area to their license.
The other violation concerned capacity. The Patio opened with 21 seats in early 2020 but the Covid pandemic arrived soon after they opened and with it, relief from the state allowing them to use their parking lot and double their capacity. They tented the parking lot and have been allowed a capacity of 42 people since spring 2020 (the town has also tussled with the restaurant over the size of that tent). This violation took place in November 2022, when the inspector found they had 68 seats. (They were also cited twice in July 2021 for having too many seats.)
The Patio argued the extra seats were only there because they had been moved outside temporarily and that the fact they were set with cutlery was a mistake by the waitstaff.
Skwirz said the deal struck with the Winpennys called for the town to dismiss the capacity violation. He said punishing the restaurant for that violation would be hard to defend since there were no people in those extra seats at the time of the inspection and capacity refers to people not seats. He and lawyer Matt Oliverio (hired to represent the council in its role as the Board of License Commissioners) both said the state Department of Business Regulation would almost certainly overturn any license suspension by the town.
The councils voted 4-0 to approve the deal, which called for the Winpennys to pay a $1,000 fine for the storage violation. In a separate 4-0 vote, they also approved The Patio’s alcohol license. Councilor Mike Donegan was recused from the meeting.