HOPKINTON — By a 4-1 vote, with councilor Sharon Davis dissenting, members of the Hopkinton Town Council on Monday denied an application by New Frontier LLC for a liquor license at a new restaurant at the site formerly known as Boneyard Barbecue Restaurant and Saloon.
Owned by Teresa Dove-Rottinghaus of Westerly, the new restaurant would serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Council members granted the victualing and holiday sales licenses, but several councilors voiced concerns that Dove-Rottinghaus, who currently works as a server at Mia’s Cafe in Pawcatuck, did not have sufficient hospitality management experience to successfully operate a restaurant that served liquor.
Town Solicitor Kevin McAllister asked Dove-Rottinghaus whether she was leasing the premises from BCP LLC, which is owned by Patrick Kane and Bill Beggs. BCP LLC is not contributing financially to the new restaurant.
“Those were the two owners of the former operator at the site known as Boneyard Barbecue, is that correct?” he said.
“Correct,” Dove-Rottinghaus replied.
Some Hopkinton residents still harbor resentment toward the owners of the former Boneyard Barbecue after a fatal accident on Aug. 16, 2019, on the restaurant’s property at 15-A Frontier Road that took the life of Derrick Payne Sr., who worked for the Hopkinton Department of Public Works. Payne died after becoming trapped under a Jeep owned by Kane, and Kane was arrested on a charge of obstructing justice in the investigation of the accident. At a hearing on Sept. 30, citing numerous problems with the over-serving of liquor at the bar and restaurant, the Town Council voted to revoke Boneyard’s liquor license.
Council President Frank Landolfi asked Dove-Rottinghaus what she would do if no one came to her restaurant.
“Obviously, the elephant in the room is the incident that happened last August,” he said. “My fear is, you know, you spend a lot of money to get the license and put into this property and no one shows up. Have you given that any thought, because as a banker, I get real nervous when public sentiment may be one way and you’re going to be investing a lot of money.”
Dove-Rottinghaus said she was aware of Boneyard Barbecue’s issues, but she believed her restaurant would meet a need in the community.
“I am aware of the accident. I’m familiar with it, however I do believe it’s a great opportunity for myself and and I’m looking forward to moving forward in my career,” she said. “With me doing breakfast and lunch, I believe that it would be a good thing for the community. I think they need a breakfast place.”
Representing Dove-Rottinghaus at Monday’s hearing, attorney Peter Petrarca described his client as having extensive experience in the hospitality industry.
“Ms. Rottinghaus has been involved in the hospitality industry for 19 years,” he said. “She hails from Virginia. She started 19 years ago as a server at a diner, and worked her way all the way up to a beer manager at the Karl Strauss brewery in San Diego, where she managed the restaurant. She was a beer education teacher regarding the pairings, and she was also a server trainer.”
Council member Barbara Capalbo commended Rottinghaus for her commitment to open a restaurant during the COVID-19 pandemic, which, she said, would present significant challenges.
“It’s wise of you to think of pausing for COVID-19 because all the rules and regulations for restaurant seating and availability, and the bar, which is basically not allowed any longer, will be very difficult to create with a strong financial profit-and-loss sheet,” she said. “… I wish you well, but I do think you have quite a number of hurdles to resolve.”
Councilor Sharon Davis said she wanted to grant the license in order to give Dove-Rottinghaus a chance, but the other councilors voted to deny it.
“I can feel your energy and desire to move forward and plan out perhaps owning your own restaurant and managing it, but I have to tell you, I’m very uncomfortable with this application for this liquor license,” councilor Sylvia Thompson said. “I’m not opposed to the victualing license or the holiday [sales] license, but I’m uncomfortable with the relationship between the owner and this new LLC, so I’m not in favor of this.”
The attorneys representing Dove-Rottinghaus, Petrarca and Christopher Maselli, have appealed the council’s decision to the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation. A hearing on the appeal is expected to take place in the fall.