UPDATE: The board took no action Thursday as it continues to investigate the case.
The Boston Licensing Board on Thursday considers whether to take any action against Prestige Cuisine, 924 Morton St., after a BPD detective said an investigation - started after patrons were shot at as they left around 4:30 one March morning - showed an owner was opening up the basement for a nightclub at 2 a.m.
Sgt. Det. John Fitzgerald of District B-3 told the board he and other officers staked out the restaurant - which is supposed to close at 11 p.m. - around 2 a.m. on March 25. A man came from out back and opened the front door and not long after several cars pulled up - some driving the wrong way down Corbet Street to park - and entered the front.
Fitzgerald said he followed them in and found them downstairs in the basement with a DJ playing music, a cooler full of beer, bottles of rum, brandy and mixers in a manager's office and plates of chicken and fries for sale at $5 each, along with roughly 12 people. Fitzgerald said a rear exit door was chained and locked, the railing on the stairs was broken and a fire extinguisher was missing.
One of the owners of the Caribbean and West African restaurant disputed Fitzgerald's account, saying he just had three or four friends over for a quiet little party.
"I did not sell chicken," he said.
"The music wasn't just gentle music for friends, it was actual, pumping music," Fitzgerald replied, adding the owner told him at the time the food was for sale.
Fitzgerald said he decided to investigate the restaurant after an incident on March 19, in which a carload of people was shot at around 4:30 a.m. by the occupants of another car a couple blocks away from the restaurant on Corbet Street at Evans Street. The people who were shot at said both they and the people in the other car had just come from Prestige.
Board Chairwoman Christine Pulgini noted the restaurant's food-serving license does not allow alcohol on the premises for any reason. She said the board on Thursday would take a good hard look at what sort of punishment, aftertelling the owner she was not buying the small-party argument:
"You were operating an illegal nightclub down there," she said.