As several police officers recited a litany of problems at Kitty O'Shea's over the the past few months at a Boston Licensing Board hearing today - from fights and smoking patrons jamming up the sidewalk to blaring music audible down the block - bar attorney William Burke offered no defense, only a promise to do better:
"Clearly there was a problem here," Burke told the board. "Clearly things got out of hand and they got out of hand rather quickly."
Burke said bar owner Kevin Loughney is hiring all new managers and ditching a DJ and dancing to try to restore order. He's also retained Cohasset Police Chief Mark DeLuca to write a new security manual for employees, Burke said. The board decides Thursday what action to take about three formal complaints filed by police against Kitty O'Shea's for incidents in August, September and October.
The bar's nadir came early Sept. 26, when a pushing and shoving match between two groups on the dance floor ended in an all out brawl that left one patron knocked into unconsciousness and required pretty much every available officer in District A-1 to break up. Det. Eric Eversley said that when the man came to, officers were unable to get information out of him because of "his level of intoxication" - and were unable to get any useful information out of other patrons because they were all too busy just trying to clear the place out.
In another incident on Aug. 22, a patron and bar manager Jamie Chambers went tumbling down stairs after the guy and two friends were asked to leave for dancing "too aggressively." The guy's girlfriend started smacking a doorman with her shoe as this was going on, Chambers said.
Det. John Devaney told the licensing board he and his partner, Det. Kevin McGill, spent the summer "advising" restaurant manager Jamie Chambers on how to comply with city regulations, but things have gotten so bad that it's now out of their hands - the bar's reputation for violence and noise has traveled all the way to Roxbury, where brass at Boston Police headquarters are now monitoring the bar.
"We have been advising this guy all summer long," Devaney said. "We can't do any more advising."
Burke said things started going downhill about a year ago, when Loughney's wife died and he faced a bout with cancer, both of which kept him in his native Ireland. Loughney is now in recovery from the cancer and is pledging to spend at least one week a month in Boston overseeing the bar - he also owns Kitty O'Shea bars in Ireland.
People Loughney trusted to run the bar were not up to the task, he said, adding "there's also been a different crowd that's been coming into Kitty O'Shea's more recently." Burke said the elimination of dancing should help. "It's a failed business model, one that was just a prescription for a problem," especially on State Street, which has several bars that let out at the same time, he said.