Seal Pub Will Mount Defense Against Alleged Liquor Violations

By: William F. Galvin

The Harwich Town Seal was designed by local artist Charles D. Cahoon in 1896. It misrepresents the type of dwelling Wampanoag people lived in.

HARWICH — Several allegations of liquor license violations were leveled against the Seal Pub and Cafe in police department reports during a show-cause hearing on Thursday.

The allegations included serving after hours, serving intoxicated individuals, and allowing excessive noise. The allegations were contained in police reports filed by a number of Harwich officers.

The owners will present a response to the charges on July 27.

Among the allegations was a report from Sgt. Amy Walinski, who wrote that at 1:31 a.m. on May 22, many people remained in the establishment “sitting at the bar, drinking, and the bartender was still behind the bar.” When she and officer (John) Larivee returned at 1:50 a.m. there were several people visible inside the establishment and several more in the parking lot. The officers contacted manager Josh Winston, who indicated that the people inside (five people plus him) were all staff, according to the report. The people outside dispersed when the police arrived.

Walinski said they advised Winston that, with the summer season coming, patrons have to be moved along sooner. Winston was cooperative and receptive, she said. Town regulations require that all people are out of a bar by 1:15 a.m. and that no alcohol be served after hours, even to employees.

Owner Bob Young and bartender Ian Doe said the bottles on the bar were part of the cleanup process at the end of the night. They also said employees were there while credit card processing was taking place and tips were being calculated.

Earlier on May 22, officer Christopher Arrigo was flagged down in Harwich Center by a woman who saw an intoxicated person staggering and falling over a guardrail into the bushes. Arrigo found the individual passed out. When awakened, the individual was “extremely intoxicated and couldn’t walk,” according to the report. Arrigo reported that as he gave the individual a ride home, the person yelled, swore and spit at him, and told him that he had been at the Seal Pub with a girl.

Officer Keith Kannally reported that on May 29 at 11:26 p.m. he was dispatched to the Seal Pub for a report of an intoxicated individual inside a vehicle. The vehicle did not belong to the person who had passed out in the back seat. The reporting party said the individual’s friends were inside the Seal Pub. The male individual vomited in the back of the vehicle and again in the booking room at the police station, Kannally reported. The individual was held in protective custody.

Town Counsel Jeffrey Blake said the two allegations of over-serving raised a red flag. Young asked if in both instances officers came to the pub to speak to management about the incidents; the officers said they had not.

Young said procedures have been drafted for bartenders to follow when people come into the pub intoxicated. They are not to be served and must be removed quickly. Security has been hired to handle these situations and any crowd build-up outside the pub, he added.

Doe testified that he did not recall serving the individual. The intoxicated person was in the pub only a short time before a group of women came to the bartender and said the person was making them feel uncomfortable. He said he escorted the person outside.

On June 6, at 10:22 p.m. Sgt. Paul Boorack and Richard Buttrick responded to a report of an individual outside the pub swinging at people. The bouncers contained the person, who was swaying, had a strong odor of alcohol and slurred speech, according to the report.

“The individual had actually assaulted someone but the victim did not wish to pursue charges,” Police Chief David Guillemette wrote in a report to selectmen. The person was uncooperative when handcuffed and was taken to the police station and placed in protective custody.

Young said he sat beside the individual and could see that he was aggravated. He thought the person was under the influence of something other than alcohol. Young added that the individual was not served at the Seal Pub.

On June 5, at 12:49 a.m., the department received a 911 call with a complaint about loud and intoxicated patrons in the parking lot of the pub. It was deemed a valid complaint by Sgt. Robert Brackett.

In a letter to Town Administrator Joseph Powers and Selectmen Chairman Michael MacAskill, Young wrote that after receiving notification of the initial incidents, the owners in late May met with Lieut. Adam Hutton to discuss closing procedures and whether they could have the police cruise the parking lot at midnight for crowd and noise control. Young also said there is a list of closing procedures in place for staff, with last call at 12:15 a.m. and serving stopped at 12:30 a.m.

It is an unusual year with the lifting of the mask regulations and people wanting to get out to socialize, Young said. In early May, crowds of younger people started coming to the Cape, he said, and people have been coming from other bars outside of town.

“We’d get overwhelmed,” Young said, explaining why security was hired.

Given the alleged violations, Power, who served as hearing officer, asked whether the owners wanted to mount a defense. Winston did not deny the allegations, but Young overruled him “so the establishment can present its case.” Powers agreed to continue the hearing to Tuesday, July 27 to allow the pub owners time to shape a defense.

On Monday night selectmen agreed to hold another show cause hearing on additional alleged liquor license violations relating to loud noise and excessive yelling at the Seal Pub on June 26 when, according to the police report, Brackett could heare the noise from 450 feet away. Powers said the hearing will be scheduled for July 27, the same day as the Seal Pub owners are scheduled to offer a defense against the earlier allegations.