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Pittsfield Board Says Club Responded Properly to 'Melee'
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
12:46PM / Wednesday, January 31, 2024
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A melee that broke out at Sportsman's Cafe won't result in any penalties for the bar after the Licensing Board determined its staff acted appropriately.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Licensing Board chose not to penalize a Peck's Road bar for a melee that resulted in one arrest.

The panel voted Monday to file a show-cause hearing for the Sportsman's Cafe following a large fight on Dec. 10. It was determined that the owners responded appropriately.

"This is the first incident for this owner of the bar. I think they took appropriate action to remove the individual from the premises," board member Jody Phillips said.

"Unfortunately, you couldn't control what happened outside afterward."

Around 12:50 a.m. that Sunday, several officers responded to the Sportsman's for a report of a fight between 10 to 20 people outside. When officers arrived, they saw about 10 people between the bar and the parking lot across the street.

After speaking to witnesses and involved parties, the police concluded that an assault had taken place between a man and his girlfriend, the disturbance then spread between the man and others within the bar and then moved outside and across the street.

"The incident was brought to my attention and has resulted in me bringing forth this request for a show cause hearing before the board," Lt. Matthew Hill explained.

Co-owner Jonathan Griffin explained that his partner Mike Martino was at the bar until midnight and when he left there were two doormen and a bartender.

"This guy ended up attacking his own fiancée. He ended up punching her in the face several times," Griffin said, adding that the man was reportedly from out of town and was not recognized.

In response, the staff worked to remove the man from the establishment. At one point, one of his friends attacked one of the security guards, which resulted in an arrest and charges.

"Once he started attacking my security guy, a couple of customers tried to intervene to try to help, which didn't really help," Griffin said. "And then it just, like I said it turned into a melee."

The tapes from that night were reviewed with staff and they spoke about ways to better handle the situation, he added, and they are feeling better prepared.

Officers reported that they could control the scene and everyone separated pretty well, eventually dispersing to their cars across the street. When the first officer arrived, he reported that about 10 individuals were "blocking Peck's Road" from the front of the bar to the parking lot arguing.

Board member Kathy Amuso said that sometimes licensees come before the board and they don't seem to take responsibility, and while she believes things did get out of hand, the response was appropriate.

"I think the fact that the security guard at least tried to get the guy outside of the building, which was the responsible thing to do," board member Dennis Powell said.

Also on Monday, the board filed a show cause hearing for Thistle and Mirth after a stabbing on Thanksgiving Eve. Since the incident, the owners rebranded and reduced hours to curb that behavior and the board was satisfied with the actions taken.

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