WESTERLY — A representative of Paddy’s Beach Club told the Licensing Board Thursday that what police describe as an increase in both medical calls and reports of intoxicated individuals can be explained and a misunderstanding is to blame for why the club has been serving alcohol beyond the approved dimensions of an outdoor area shown on plans maintained by the town.
Angela Thoman, the club’s business manager and a member of the Licensing Board, announced she was recusing herself from the board’s discussion of the club, then walked off the dais and took a seat at a table before the board to address issues raised in a report written by Westerly Police Lt. Steven Johnson. She was joined by William Nardone, the club’s lawyer.
According to Johnson’s report, 17 ambulance calls to the club for intoxicated people were made between Memorial Day and July 9 of this year, and police responded to 13 calls for disturbances at the club during the same time period. Additionally, multiple patrons were “observed walking out of the establishment with full alcoholic beverages” on the Fourth of July, Johnson wrote in his report.
Thoman said the number of ambulance calls is misleading.
“A good portion of those calls are people being taken off of the state beach,” she said.
It is also not clear, Thoman said, that the people described as intoxicated were drinking at Paddy’s or what substance caused their intoxication. Regarding the calls for police responses for disturbances, Thoman said some of the calls pertained to arguments between customers or patrons who left the club without paying their bills.
The Fourth of July incidents occurred on a day when four members of the club’s security staff failed to come in for their scheduled shifts and failed to notify the club of their plans not to come in, Thoman said. Once club staff realized patrons were leaving with alcohol, Thoman said, one of the exits was closed.
Board member Mary E. Belanger said she was initially concerned with the number of intoxicated persons calls but was glad to hear Thoman address the issue. Belanger praised the club for calling the ambulance service for people in need of help but was critical of allowing patrons to walk off club property with alcohol.
“To me that’s not acceptable if they are leaving that area with open containers. I’m sorry that this happened, but I just have zero tolerance for this type of stuff because all I see is worry about dollars and not worries about safety,” Belanger said.
The questions about which parts of the club’s outdoor area can be used for the service of alcohol arose “due to recent issues that have been occurring at Paddy’s,” Johnson wrote. Johnson and Westerly Police Capt. Shawn Lacey visited the Atlantic Avenue club on July 10 after reviewing maps associated with the club’s liquor license.
The license maps depicted a 100-foot-by-25-foot fenced area, which the club calls its “Tiki Bar,” adjacent to the club’s main building, where alcohol can be served. Johnson measured the area at the club and found it was 100 feet by 60 feet. He also found seven cabanas in the area and noted the map showed four cabanas. A wall that extends along one side of the outdoor area is depicted on the map as being parallel with a wall of the main building but actually extends several feet into what is marked on the map as the parking lot, Johnson wrote.
Johnson also reported that he did not find any signs at the beach-side exit telling patrons not to bring alcohol off club property. A sign on the parking lot side was obscured by a machine, Johnson wrote.
Thoman said the club reduced the size of the area where alcohol is served outdoors as soon as Johnson pointed out the discrepancy. She said the club’s owners believed the area approved by the town was larger and said the club would likely seek to have the larger area approved when it seeks renewal of its license.
Nardone addressed the number of cabanas, saying what the club describes as cabanas should be viewed simply as a seating area and he said the cabanas were within the approved space. He also defended the club’s reputation.
“I believe in the 19-plus years that this group has been operating Paddy’s, this may be the first incident and it was immediately addressed,” Nardone said.
The club is owned by Paddy’s Fun One Inc. Its principals are Frank Labriola and Paul Doyle.
Thoman declined to provide additional comment after the meeting.