|Licensing Board Cautious About Allowing Sportsman's To Stay Open Later|
|By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff|
02:34AM / Thursday, June 28, 2018
|The owner of the Sportsman's Cafe is looking to stay open later.|
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Neighbors of the Sportsman's Cafe are objecting to the owner's pitch to once again stay open until 2 a.m.
Owner Neal Marshall has been closing the bar at 11 and has petitioned the Licensing Board to stay open until 2 a.m. as it had in the past. But neighbors say the late nights in the past have led to people arguing in the streets, littering, urinating in public, and illegal parking.
Craig Rand spoke on behalf of the neighbors and the nuisances were a constant when the bar was open that late. He said there are no lights, only one bartender working for a large crowd, and nobody to ease traffic burdens.
Marshall said he has a plan to address those concerns. He said he will put up cameras on the building and in the parking lot, will have bartenders inform residents about where to park and if they aren't in his lot then they won't get served, and he plans to hire another bartender at night.
"Right now our sales have plummeted and it is really hurting the business," he said.
Marshall said the bar wasn't quite prepared for a change in its clientele. He said all of a sudden patrons were showing up in large groups after leaving other bars. Since the hours were scaled back, however, Marshall says people aren't coming in earlier. He said he isn't just losing business after 11 p.m. but those who would come in earlier haven't been showing up.
"I will be, some time this year, stepping down and my son will be taking over as manager," Marshall added, saying his son will be able to spend a lot more time at the establishment than he currently does.
The Licensing Board agreed to allow Marshall to stay open until midnight and will reconsider a later hour once those changes are in place. The board wants Marshall to create a track record of no incidents before agreeing to the later hour.
"I think there are some steps that should be taken now. If those steps are taken and you can convince of that, I'd be more apt to extending the hours longer," Chairman Thomas Campoli said.
The board is asking Marshall to return next month to provide an update on the project.
Meanwhile, at Lach's Lounge, which has a troubled recent history, police reported that there have been two issues in April. Police were asked to provide additional checks on the bar and Officer Michael Schilling said he's incorporated that into his routine.
On April 22, Schilling reported that he suspected there was overserving when he observed multiple people being helped to walk outside of the bar. On April 29, Schilling reported that he was flagged down by Lach's staff when an argument broke out. He joined Lach's security in breaking up the argument before it escalated.
In the latter instance, manager Ishmael Lytle said he can usually tell when tempers start to flare up and is able to intervene earlier. But in this case, he said there was no indication. He said it was a good night at the bar and all of a sudden the argument erupted. That coincides with Schilling's report. Schilling said moments before he looked in the bar and everything seemed to be going alright.
Lytle took over the management of the bar following a shooting in the parking lot in 2016. He has since taken a number of security steps and owner Michael Kruger has made it a point to be on site in the later evenings as well. Police say overall the measured have worked. They've had few issues with the bar outside of those two.
The Licensing Board also approved a transfer of the former Itam's liquor license to Proprietor's Lodge. The license was also changed from a club license to a restaurant license. Attorney Dennis Egan said the plan is not to have a publicly opened restaurant but rather an event hall. Lake House Guest Cottages purchased the Waubeek Road property with the intent to host weddings.
Neighbors, however, are concerned with the hours of operation. The liquor license allows service until midnight but the Itam had been closing at 11.
"This will be a function hall. This isn't a 1 o'clock in the morning type of use," Egan said.
Despite the neighbors' concerns, the Licensing Board agreed to allow the establishment to stay open until midnight to start. But, if the neighbors still have complaints after the business is running then it can reassess the situation.