The new owner of the McDonald's at 178 Border St. says a $1-million renovation of the facility should curb the appetite of drug addicts who keep shooting up in his restrooms.
Chief among the new changes: The new restrooms won't have locks, Peter Tripoletti told the Boston Licensing Board today.
Tripoletti was there to answer a citation by Boston Police for "permitting an illegality, drug use on premises," issued after several incidents over recent months involving the restrooms at the restaurant. Police say addicts would go into one of the restrooms, lock the doors and shoot up.
On Oct. 9, around 1:50 p.m., workers discovered an unconscious man in the men's room - whom they had difficulty getting to because he was slumped by the door. The man was pronounced dead at the scene of an apparent drug overdose. Police found a number of syringes in the men's room with him.
On Oct. 17, around 3:15 p.m., Lt. Det. Stephen Meade told the board, an A-7 sergeant watched a man and a woman, both with the "pallid and pockmarked complexions" of drug users, get out of a Lynn cab in front of the McDonald's, sit on the curb for awhile, then go inside - where the woman bought a small soft drink and the man went into the men's room and locked the door.
Meade said the sergeant knocked on the door several times over 15 minutes and that each time, the man answered he was using the toilet - even though the sounds of running water and footsteps made it obvious he was not using the toilet. When the man finally did emerge, Meade said, the sergeant talked to him. The sergeant noted he now had droopy eyelids and difficulty keeping his head up - and signs on his left arm consistent with the use of a tourniquet of the type used by addicts to expose a vein. In the men's room, Meade said, the sergeant found drops of blood under the sink and "only unsoiled toilet paper in the toilet."
Meade added that while the man was continuing to deny he had shot up - he said he had a prescription to keep him from using heroin - a syringe fell from his right side to the floor.
Tripoletti, who bought the franchise in March, said he's already doubled the number of security cameras, increased the number of times workers check the restrooms and put up signs, recommended by police, that the restrooms are only for patrons. But he said the real improvements should come in a month, when the newly renovated restaurant opens with new, larger restrooms that can't be locked.
He said police have not had any problems with the temporary, trailer-based restrooms he now has on the site.
"There is not a feather, not an inch in me that would allow any type of illegal [drug] use in my restaurants," he said. Tripoletti, who has been a McDonald's franchise owner for 37 years, added the East Boston location might be the victim of decisions by other nearby businesses to kick drug addicts out - they then end up at his franchise.
The board decides Thursday what action, if any, to take. It could suspend the restaurant's food-serving license for a set number of days, issue a warning or decide no violation has occurred.