The Boston Licensing Board on Thursday considers whether the Stage Nightclub, 19 Boylston Pl., shares any responsibility for a November melee that left one of its servers lying on the floor, drenched in the champagne one angry patron had thrown at her, as other angry patrons grabbed her by the hair and pounded her head against the floor.
At a hearing today, police, the waitress and the club's lawyer all agreed that a table of patrons arose almost as one to pummel the worker in an attack that left her with a concussion, another server who had come to her aid and even the beefier club bouncers who rushed to the scene.
But while the server said the table seemed to have been set off by the fact they weren't getting their champagne and rum fast enough after everybody returned from a fire alarm that had emptied the club, Simao suggested that somebody, possibly the waitress, had set the table off with a string of racial epithets aimed its way. The waitress denied calling anybody anything before the attack.
Also possibly at issue for the board: Why the club allegedly waited more than an hour to contact police, even though one of its employees had just gotten beaten up.
And who let the people in? On Nov. 15, the club was supposed to be closed to the public and only people with invitations from somebody who had rented the facility for a private party allowed in. But a Boston Police officer testified that the place had been rented by two promoters - and that they in turn had brought in a "sub-promoter" to fill the large space. The promoters told the officer they didn't know the people at the table, but the server said the two of them came over to the table, shook people's hands and addressed them by name.
The board has long frowned on clubs that hand over their facilities to promoters. Club attorney Karen Simao denied whoever rented the place was a promoter hired by the club; a police officer said both men identified themselves to him as promoters - but refused to hand over the name of the sub-promoter.
In her testimony, the server, who said she had worked at Stage since it opened a year ago, said she was in charge of bottle service for two tables on a stage.
Shortly after the fire alarm, after 1 a.m., two men at one of the tables began complaining loudly about how slow the club was to get his table the eight bottles of champagne and one bottle of Baccardi it had ordered. "They were in my face, yelling at me," she said. One guy started yelling to cancel the whole order - but another guy at the table said, no, just get the liquor. A bouncer came over and told them "hey, relax, your bottles are coming."
The bottles came. But the angry guys stayed angry, she said, and one of them yelled at her "Don't fucking talk to me!" She said another server who was assigned to help her told him "Don't talk to her like that," to which he allegedly responded "You shut the fuck up, too, bitch!"
And then, she said, she found herself under attack. One of the angry guys threw a handful of ice at her, followed by champagne - still in a bottle. A woman got up and grabbed her hair from behind and she fell off the stage to the ground. "When I fell to the ground, there were other girls (from the table) on top of me," she said.
The waitress, who was accompanied by her own lawyer, denied being responsible for what Simao called "several discriminatory comments made to African-American patrons." Simao retorted that "people don't typically just start throwing champagne bottles." The waitress responded she would "never in a million years" say anything like that.
After the incident, the waitress said, her manager hustled her into a hallway, where she said she waited for 25 to 30 minutes before being hustled into an office. She said nobody called police until about 2:35 a.m.
Simao suggested there is more to the story, but declined to say more at the hearing.