The Boston Licensing Board decides Thursday whether to punish Venu for a September incident that left people drenched in cheap champagne and two BPD detectives unable to ferret out the underage drinkers they suspected were part of the festive crowd.
At a hearing this morning, Sgt. Det. Robert Mulvey said he and his partner arrived at the Warrenton Street club around 11:55 p.m. on Sept. 13 to conduct an inspection after he'd noticed a Facebook post advertising a "champagne war."
He said he and Det. Daniel MacDonald saw a greeter handing out disposable plastic raincoats to arriving patrons. He said he spotted several people who looked too young to be legally drinking. But, he continued, he was unable to check IDs because he would have been showered in champagne - since they arrived at the height of the event, with numerous people shaking up champagne bottles and spraying everybody around them with the bubbly.
But although he did not go into the drenching zone to check IDs, he did write the club a citation when he spotted several people openly downing the champagne directly from the bottles with no evidence they were pairing the alcohol with a meal - a violation of state law.
Club attorney Mark Evlogiadis said the spritzing has long been a "standard celebration" at the club for returning college students and is a way for them to get back in the school spirit with a harmless bang. He said the club uses only very cheap champagne, since the whole point of the exercise is to spray the stuff, not drink it. People who really wanted to quench their thirst could still get the real stuff - after showing ID - he said.
"Isn't an event like this inviting bad behavior?" board Chairwoman Christine Pulgini asked.
Nope, Evlogiadis said - in the 12 years Venu has had a Champagne War night, it's never had a problem.
And besides, it's really no different than Red Sox players shaking up bottles and spraying each other after a victory season, he continued, as he handed board Pulgini two photos - one from a Venu drenching, one showing a similar scene in a Red Sox clubhouse.
"You're truthfully comparing the two?" Pulgini asked. Well, not really, Evlogiadis said, which prompted Pulgini to ask why he'd just given her the two photos.
Still, Evlogiadis and club Manager William Robinson said, in the future, the club will only buy non-alcoholic spraying champagne for the event - yes, that's a thing.
The owner of Delicias Dominicanas, 635 Hyde Park Ave., vowed this morning to avoid a repeat of a late-night November incident in which Boston Police detectives found karaoke booming out of the place at levels far higher than allowed by city code.
At a hearing this morning, Sgt. Det. Robert Mulvey told Boston Licensing Director Christine Pulgini that as he and his partner arrived at the restaurant for a routine inspection around 11:30 p.m. on Nov. 19, they noticed loud karaoke even before they got to the door.
Using a sound meter, Mulvey say, he recorded readings of between 75 and 80 db - far, far higher than the 50 dB that is the maximum allowed outside after 11 p.m. under a city noise ordinance.
Restaurant attorney Carolyn Conway acknowledged the problem and said it wouldn't happen again - employees will keep the volume down. "We don't want to become anything other than what they are now - which is an integral part of the neighborhood," she said.
Pulgini said that's a good thing, since neighbors raised noise issues when the restaurant first applied for an entertainment license.
At a hearing this morning, BPD Sgt. William Gallagher said he issued a citation to New York Pizza around 2:35 a.m. on Oct. 23 because of a crowd on Tremont Street that was so large and restive it was forcing pedestrians to detour into Tremont Street, possibly risking their lives. The one yellow-vested employee outside was simply unable to control the hungry horde, he said.
New York Pizza attorney Thomas Finnerty, Jr. acknowledged the infraction and said his client has since taken steps to avoid a repeat: When post-club crowds descend, employees will set up a line to keep the hungry from blocking the sidewalks - and that more employees will go outside to keep things under control.
Finnerty then launched into a defense of his client as he pleaded with the board for mercy when it considers possible punishments: "New York Pizza serves a very valuable service this time of night," he said.
People who have had too much to drink in a night of clubbing can sober up a bit as they wait for and then consume a slice, he said.
"They can reflect upon whether or not they should be driving an automobile," he said.
"That's a very valuable service," he said, adding the take-out pizza that the place sells late at night also helps out workers getting out of the nearby bars, clubs and restaurants at 2 a.m.
The board decides Thursday whether to take any action on the citation.
Boston Police are investigating an armed-robbery attempt at the Alfa gas station at Washington and South streets tonight by three men who apparently fled on foot when a Boston officer arrived on scene. Read more.